ProCon.org contacted the 2008 Presidential candidates to ask their positions on the question, "Should marijuana be a medical option?" If no response was received, ProCon.org conducted research to find quotes from the candidates on the issue. If you have heard a better or more recent statement from one of the candidates on the topic of medical marijuana, please let us know.
Candidates' positions are categorized as Pro (Yes), Con (No), Not Clearly Pro or Con, or None Found.
Candidates who have changed their positions are listed as Now their most recent position. (Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by party; black & white photos indicate candidate is no longer running or no longer meets our criteria.)
Candidates are listed in alphabetical order. Positions are categorized as Pro (Yes), Con (No), Not Clearly Pro or Con, or None Found.
Candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria are listed last.
Chuck Baldwin, Founder and Minister of the Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, FL, issued the following statement through his Communications Director, Mary Starrett, in an Aug. 11, 2008 email to ProCon.org:
"The federal government has no Constitutional provision to regulate or restrict the freedom of the people to have access to medical care, supplies or treatments. We advocate, therefore, the elimination of the federal Food and Drug Administration, as it has been the federal agency primarily responsible for prohibiting beneficial products, treatments, and technologies here in the United States that are freely available in much of the rest of the civilized world." Aug. 11, 2008 Chuck Baldwin
Bob Barr, former US House Representative (R-GA), stated in an Apr. 12, 2008 interview on C-SPAN's Washington Journal:
"Medical marijana has a lot of efficacy, it should be supportive [sic], and it should be up to the states to vote and decide on those issues, not the federal government." Apr. 12, 2008 Bob Barr
[Editor's Note: Prior to Bob Barr's Apr. 12, 2008 Pro position, Bob Barr's position was Con medical marijuana as indicated in his Mar. 27, 2001 statement. Bob Barr became a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) in Mar. 2007]
John McCain, U.S. Senator (R-AZ), gave the following response at a Town Hall meeting in Derry, New Hampshire on Sep. 30, 2007:
"Every medical expert I know of, including the AMA [American Medical Association], says that there are much more effective and much better treatments for pain than medical marijuana...I still would not support medical marijuana because I don't think that the preponderance of medical opinion in America agrees with [the] assertion that it's the most effective way of treating pain." Sep. 30, 2007 McCain, John
Cynthia McKinney, Green Party Presidential Candidate and former U.S. House Representative (D-GA) Former U.S. House Representative (D-GA), in her May 1, 2007 Green Party Presidential Questionnaire, stated:
"In 1999, I voted to oppose prohibiting needle exchange and medical marijuana in the District of Columbia." May 1, 2007 Cynthia McKinney
Ralph Nader, Attorney, Author, and Political Activist, stated in an Oct. 8, 2004 interview with the Drug War Chronicle:
"[R]esearch has shown marijuana to be a safe and effective medicine for controlling nausea associated with cancer therapy, reducing the eye pressure for patients with glaucoma, and reducing muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, para- and quadriplegia." Oct. 8, 2004 Ralph Nader
Barack Obama, U.S. Senator (D-IL), stated in a Mar. 22, 2008 interview with Gary Nelson, Editorial page editor for the Oregon newspaper Mail Tribune:
"When it comes to medical marijuana, I have more of a practical view than anything else. My attitude is that if it's an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma or as a cancer treatment, I think that should be appropriate because there really is no difference between that and a doctor prescribing morphine or anything else. I think there are legitimate concerns in not wanting to allow people to grow their own or start setting up mom and pop shops because at that point it becomes fairly difficult to regulate.
I'm not familiar with all the details of the initiative that was passed [in Oregon] and what safeguards there were in place, but I think the basic concept that using medical marijuana in the same way, with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors, I think that's entirely appropriate.
I would not punish doctors if it's prescribed in a way that is appropriate. That may require some changes in federal law. I will tell you that...the likelihood of that being real high on my list is not likely. What I'm not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue simply because I want folks to be investigating violent crimes and potential terrorism. We've got a lot of things for our law enforcement officers to deal with." Mar. 22, 2008 Barack Obama
[Editor's Note: Prior to Barack Obama's Mar. 22, 2008 Pro position, his position was Not Clearly Pro or Con as indicated in his Nov. 24, 2007 statement at a town hall meeting below.]
Barack Obama, U.S. Senator (D-IL), stated in a Nov. 24, 2007 town hall meeting in Audubon, Iowa:
"My attitude is, if the science and the doctors suggest that the best palliative care and the best way to relieve pain and suffering is through medical marijuana then that's something I'm open to, because there's no difference between that and morphine when it comes to just giving people relief from pain. But I want to do it under strict guidelines. I want to make sure that it is prescribed in the same way that other painkillers or palliative drugs would be prescribed. I'm concerned about folks just kind of growing their own and saying it's for medicinal purposes, because that's kind of a slippery slope." Nov. 24, 2007 Barack Obama
Joe Biden, U.S. Senator (D-DE), stated in a May 12, 2007 article titled "Your Guide to the Candidates' Views on Medical Marijuana: Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE)" on the Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana website:
"We have not devoted nearly enough science or time to deal with the pain management and chronic pain management that exists. There's got to be a better answer than marijuana. There's got to be a better answer than that. There's got to be a better way for a humane society to figure out how to deal with that problem." May 22, 2007 Joe Biden
Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senator (D-NY), in a town hall forum at Plymouth State College in Plymouth, NJ on Oct. 11, 2007, stated:
"With respect to medical marijuana, you know I think that we have had a lot of rhetoric and the federal government has been very intent upon trying to prevent states from being able to offer that as an option for people who are in pain. I think we should be doing medical research on this. We ought to find what are the elements that claim to be existing in marijuana that might help people who are suffering from cancer and nausea-related treatments. We ought to find that out. I don't think we should decriminalize it, but we ought to do research into what, if any, medical benefits it has." Oct. 11, 2007 Hillary Clinton
Chris Dodd, U.S. Senator (D-CT), stated in an interview on "The Bill Maher Grill: Democratic Candidate Mashup" on Yahoo! News (accessed Nov. 1, 2007):
"Bill Maher: Can you give me a good reason why, in a free and fair society, marijuana should be illegal?
Dodd: Well, Bill, I've taken the position, certainly with medical use of marijuana, that it ought to be allowed. And many states, I think 12 or 13 states allow that today. In fact, we just had a huge debate in the committee in which I serve dealing with the issue. And I've strongly advocated that these states not be biased or prejudiced because they allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes." Nov. 1, 2007 Chris Dodd
John Edwards, former U.S. Senator (D-NC), stated in a conversation with Clayton Holton from the Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana in a Sep. 8, 2007 YouTube.com video titled "Senator John Edwards on Medical Marijuana":
"...[T]hese raids that are being done against [medical marijuana] patients, I will not do as President of the United States and would put a stop to. What I've also said is, I really think that we need to put the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] in charge of this instead of having -- right now it's just a political football. I think if we give the FDA the responsibility and have them determine how to treat this -- if somebody like you who needs medical marijuana to ease your pain and there's not other medications that can accomplish it, then the FDA can say that. But what we have right now is a situation where it's a huge political football, it's used for political rhetoric, and the result is a lot of people are being punished as a result. And so that's what I would do, I would put it under the responsibility of the FDA and I would stop these raids. That's what I would do." Sep. 8, 2007 John Edwards
Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City, stated in a Granite Staters for Medical Marijana website's article titled "Your Guide to the Candidates' Views on Medical Marijuana: Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY)" (accessed Oct. 30, 2007):
"I checked with the FDA [Food and Drug Administration]. The FDA says marijuana has no additive medical benefit of any kind, that the illegal trafficking of marijuana is so great that it makes much more sense to keep it illegal. I will keep it illegal." Oct. 30, 2007 Rudy Giuliani
Mike Huckabee, at a campaign stop in Londonberry, New Hampshire on Sep. 29, 2007, stated:
"You've asked me the question about medical marijuana...my concern is, as much as I want to see something happen that would ease your pain, I'm not sure and I've not been convinced with medical evidence by independent research...that clearly says that it is more effective than other forms of pain medication, whether it's narcotic or analgesic. And so what I want to do is, if somebody can present to me scientifically and objectively, then I would certainly give a different consideration... I think the question is, would I favor the legalization at a federal level, and until there's some stronger scientific evidence, I'm reluctant to do that." Sep. 29, 2007 Mike Huckabee
Duncan Hunter, U.S. Representative (R-CA), on June 15, 2005 voted against H.AMDT.272 to the "Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006" (H.R.2862) regarding states' use of medical marijuana:
"An amendment to prohibit any funds made available in the Act to the Department of Justice from being used to prevent the States of Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington from implementing State laws authorizing the use of medical marijuana in those States." June 15, 2005 "H.AMDT.272 to H.R.2862," Library of Congress website Duncan Hunter
Dennis Kucinich, U.S. Representative (D-OH), stated at the Aug. 9, 2007 Democratic forum on Viacom's Logo cable network:
"Well, four years go when there were raids in California, I as a member of the Congress objected to that. And, of course, it's a matter between doctors and patients, and if doctors want to prescribe medical marijuana to relieve pain, compassion requires that the government support that. And so as president of the United States, I would make sure that our Justice Department was mindful that we should be taking a compassionate approach.
I want to go one step further, because this whole issue of drugs in our society is misplaced. Drugs have infected the society, but I think we need to look at it more as a medical and a health issue than as a criminal justice issue." Aug. 9, 2007 Dennis Kucinich
Frank McEnulty, President of Our Castle Homes, in an Oct. 30, 2007 email to ProCon.org, stated:
"Yes, medical marijuana as a medical option should be made available to anyone to whom it will help. It is somewhat ridiculous that people with life-threatening or life-ending diseases are often forced into criminal activities in order to ease the pain of their daily suffering." Oct. 30, 2007 Frank McEnulty
Ron Paul, U.S. Representative (R-TX), offered the following in a letter dated Apr. 27, 2005 to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), signed by Rep. Paul and 23 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives:
"After deferring to the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration], your release reads that, 'FDA is the sole federal agency that approves drug products as safe and effective for intended indications.' Why then has the FDA failed to respond to the 1999 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report which concluded that marijuana's active components are potentially effective in treating pain, nausea, the anorexia of AIDS wasting, and other symptoms, and should be tested rigorously in clinical trials?
It perplexes us that even though the FDA is responsible for protecting public health, the agency has failed to respond adequately to the IOM's findings seven years after the study's publication date. Additionally, this release failed to make note of the FDA's Investigational New Drug (IND) Compassionate Access Program, which allowed patients with certain medical conditions to apply with the FDA to receive federal marijuana. Currently, seven people still enlisted in this program continue to receive marijuana through the federal government.
The existence of this program is an example of how the FDA could allow for the legal use of a drug, such as medical marijuana, without going through the 'well-controlled' series of steps that other drugs have to go through if there is a compassionate need." Apr. 27, 2005 Ron Paul
Bill Richardson, Governor of New Mexico, in a Feb. 7, 2007 press release titled "Governor Bill Richardson Urges Action on Medical Marijuana Bill," stated:
"I support a sensible, compassionate plan that makes medical marijuana available to patients suffering from life-threatening diseases. Such a plan must have proper safeguards and restrictions against abuse. I oppose any plan to decriminalize any drug that is currently illegal for recreational use." Feb. 7, 2007 Bill Richardson
Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts, stated in a Granite Staters for Medical Marijana website's article titled "Your Guide to the Candidates' Views on Medical Marijuana: Former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA)" (accessed Oct. 25, 2007):
"I believe marijuana should be illegal in our country. It is the pathway to drug usage by our society, which is a great scourge -- which is one of the great causes of crime in our cities. And I believe that we are at a state where, of course, we are very concerned about people who are suffering pain, and there are various means of providing pain management. And those that have had loved ones that have gone through an end of life with cancer know the nature of real pain. I watched my wife's mom and dad, both in our home, both going through cancer treatment, suffering a great deal of pain. But they didn't have marijuana, and they didn't need marijuana because there were other sources of pain management that worked entirely effectively. I'm told there is even a synthetic marijuana as well that is available. But having legalized marijuana, in my view, is an effort by a very committed few to try and get marijuana out into the public and ultimately legalize marijuana. It's a long way to go. We need less drugs in this society, not more drugs, and I would oppose the legalization of marijuana in the country or legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes because pain management is available from other sources." Oct. 25, 2007 Mitt Romney
Christine Smith, founder and former President of Dreams of Freedom, Inc., stated in a Nov. 12, 2007 email to ProCon.org:
"Yes. In my opinion government agencies such as the FDA, and DEA stand in the way to American's health with all their regulations. Regulations delay and prohibit pain-relieving drugs and potentially helpful pharmaceuticals/treatments from being available to the American people. The federal government has no constitutional authority to be involved in healthcare, I believe allowing the government to control our access to health treatments and research is one of the biggest barriers to our health. We need health freedom, which means an end to all government involvement in this area. Specifically, in answer to your question, marijuana should be legal for any purpose. I will end the 'War on Drugs.' I will end the suffering, deaths, and injustice imposed upon Americans by this insane policy. By executive order I intend to pardon people who have harmed no other person and are now incarcerated due to non-violent drug offenses." Nov. 12, 2007 Christine Smith
Tom Tancredo, U.S. Representative (R-CO), in a Granite Staters for Medical Marijana website's article titled "Your Guide to the Candidates' Views on Medical Marijuana: Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO)," stated (accessed Nov. 1, 2007):
"I can't get over it, because even the arguments that are made, that are constantly made, with regard to marijuana, are irrelevant, totally irrelevant in this debate. It's not about marijuana, it's about states' rights. The federal government has no right to interfere when a state makes that kind of decision. The federal government should stay the hell out of it." Nov. 1, 2007 Tom Tancredo
Fred Thompson, former U.S. Senator (R-TN), stated in a Granite Staters for Medical Marijana website's article titled "Your Guide to the Candidates' Views on Medical Marijuana: Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN)" (accessed Oct. 24, 2007):
"You know, there are federal laws involved and there's federalism issues also involved. It depends on a lot of different circumstances, and I just can't give you a definitive answer to that right now." Oct. 24, 2007 Fred Thompson