This story is over 5 years old.


Donald Trump Is Cool With States Deciding on Weed Legalization

Trump said he supports the use of marijuana for medical purposes and that states should be allowed to pass laws legalizing pot for recreational use.
Photo via EPA

Part of Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" effort now includes letting states legalize weed if they choose to.

Trump expressed a more lenient position than he has in the past on the subject of pot yesterday at a campaign rally in Nevada, which has recently legalized medical marijuana and will vote on a ballot initiative next year that would legalize the drug for recreational use.

"In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state by state," he said.


Trump added that he also supports medical use of marijuana. "Marijuana is such a big thing," Trump said. "I think medical should happen — right? Don't we agree? I think so."

The reality-television star turned presidential candidate has expressed a variety of positions on the issue of legalizing pot in the past. At a Conservative Political Action Conference in June, Trump said he strongly opposed Colorado's recent legalization of pot for recreational use.

"I think it's bad, and I feel strongly about that," Trump said, adding, "They've got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado, some big problems."

Related: Bernie Sanders Wants to End the Federal Ban on Weed

Trump is tacking away from how he apparently felt in 1990, when he called for the legalization of all drugs to fund programs to educate people about the hazards of using drugs.

"We're losing badly the war on drugs," Trump said, reported the Sarasota Herald. "You have to legalize drugs to win that war."

Trump's comments on Thursday came on the same day that Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders said the US should end the federal ban on marijuana altogether. "In my view, states should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern the sale of alcohol and tobacco," declared Sanders at a campaign stop at George Mason University, in Fairfax, Virginia.

But as Trump's comments on Thursday demonstrated, supporting some type of marijuana reform is not just limited to liberal politicians anymore. Many of the Republican candidates currently running for president actually share Trump's stance that states should have the right to legalize or regulate marijuana on their own, even if they personally disagree.


"If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that's their prerogative," said Ted Cruz at a CPAC conference in February, in response to a question about Colorado's ballot initiative legalizing pot. "I don't agree with it, but that's their right."

Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina have expressed similar positions to those of Cruz and Trump, saying that they support states' determining their own laws on marijuana.

Related: Yes, Jeb Bush Screwed Up Last Night — But Don't Count Him Out of the Race Just Yet

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a staunch social conservative, said earlier this month that he's willing to let states "experiment" with legalizing weed and "if it works and it turns out that the presence of recreational marijuana makes them a more prosperous state… well, heck, we may just all want to reach out there and grab that."

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has consistently advocated letting states decide their own marijuana laws and has been a vocal supporter of reducing criminal penalties for marijuana-related offenses.

The increasing number of Republican politicians who have softened their stances on marijuana legalization reflects the shift in public opinion that now overwhelmingly supports some type of marijuana reform.

Related: How President Erdogan Is Casting a Dark Shadow Over Turkey's Election

More than half the country now supports legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a Pew poll from earlier this year. In 2006, only 32 percent of the country supported legalization. A large majority of young people, including both Democrat and Republican, say pot should be legal.

Follow Olivia Becker on Twitter:  @obecker928