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The Pothead Voters’ Guide to the Presidential Candidates

A look at who’s inhaled, and who’d support legal marijuana if elected in 2016


GOP candidates discussed Colorado's marijuana law at Wednesday's CNN debate.

Astrid Riecken/The Washington Post/Getty

At the CNN Republican debate Wednesday night, Rand Paul led a hearty conversation about the 10th Amendment and candidates' hypocrisy as smokers-turned-prohibitionists. His comments were the latest to highlight the question many pundits and voters have been asking: How would the presidential candidates respond to marijuana legalization in states like Washington and Colorado? And which ones have themselves admitted to smoking? 

Here's a handy guide.

Donald Trump

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas on September 14, 2015. AFP PHOTO/LAURA BUCKMAN (Photo credit should read LAURA BUCKMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Laura Buckman/Getty

Donald Trump

"I've never taken drugs of any kind, never had a glass of alcohol. Never had a cigarette, never had a cup of coffee." –Esquire, June 2015

At this year's CPAC, Trump said that while he doesn't like marijuana legalization, he'd leave the decision up to the states. "I think it's bad, and I feel strongly about that," he said, but, "If they vote for it, they vote for it."

Chris Christie

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, speaks during the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" conference in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, June 19, 2015. The annual Faith & Freedom Coalition Policy Conference gives top-tier presidential contenders as well as long shots a chance to compete for the large evangelical Christian base in the crowded Republican primary contest. Photographer: Drew Angerer/Bloomberg via Getty Images


Chris Christie

"No, never have. It was not my thing." –New Hampshire, July 2015

Chris Christie has been clear about his intentions to stomp out marijuana legalization if elected. "If you're getting high in Colorado today," he said at a town hall in New Hampshire over the summer, "enjoy it until January 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana." 

In April, he had told radio host Hugh Hewitt, "Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law. And the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it." 

At the most recent GOP debate, Christie said that "the war on drugs has been a failure" before adding, "That doesn't mean we should be legalizing gate way drugs."

Pointing to "the decrease in productivity" and "the way people get used and move on to other drugs," Christie said, "Their families are the victims too, their children are the victims too, and their employers are the victims also."

"That's why I'll enforce the federal law."

Rand Paul

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee July 23, 2015 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee is reviewing the proposed Iran nuclear agreement. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Alex Wong/Getty

Rand Paul

"Let's just say I wasn't a choir boy when I was in college and that I can recognize that kids make mistakes, and I can say that I made mistakes when I was a kid." –WHAS, December 2014

In November 2014, Rand Paul said, "I'm not for having the federal government get involved," adding that while he hadn't "really taken a stand" on marijuana legalization as a policy, he's "against the federal government telling [states] they can't."

At the second GOP debate, Paul went off on marijuana legalization as a states' rights issue, and even called out other candidates for supporting the criminalization of a drug they've admitted to doing without consequence. "I think one of the great problems, and what American people don't like about politics, is hypocrisy," he said, side-eyeing Jeb Bush and other former stoners on the stage. "People have one standard for others and not for them — for themselves."

"We say we like the 10th Amendment, until we start talking about this," Paul continued. "And I think the federal government has gone too far."

"I don't think that the federal government should override the states. I believe in the 10th Amendment, and I really will say that the states are left to themselves," Paul said, driving home his point.

Carly Fiorina

SIMI VALLEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina take part in the presidential debates at the Reagan Library on September 16, 2015 in Simi Valley, California. Fifteen Republican presidential candidates are participating in the second set of Republican presidential debates. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Carly Fiorina

"I remember when I had cancer and my doctor said, 'Do you have any interest in medicinal marijuana?' I did not." –CPAC, 2015

At the second GOP debate, Fiorina denounced marijuana, characterizing it as a gateway drug that can lead to death, but also defended the 10th Amendment before changing the subject to gun control.

"I agree with Sen. Paul. I agree with states' rights. But we are misleading young people when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer. It's not. And the marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same as the marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago," she said, adding, "Sorry, Barbara," before discussing the "epidemic" of drug addiction and revealing she lost a child to addiction.

"I respect Colorado's right to do what they did. They are within their rights to legalize marijuana, and they are conducting an experiment that I hope the rest of the nation is looking closely at," she told the Des Moines Register in May. "I believe in states' rights. I would not, as president of the United States, enforce federal law in Colorado, where Colorado voters have said they want to legalize marijuana."

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