Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton declared her support Saturday for loosening regulations on marijuana and reclassifying the drug as a Schedule 2 substance, citing the benefits it could pose for medical research.
When asked about how she would tackle marijuana legalization at the federal level at a town hall in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Clinton said that she would like to “support research into medical marijuana.”
“A lot more states have passed medical marijuana than have legalized marijuana,” Clinton said Saturday at Claflin University, a historically black college. “And the problem with medical marijuana is that there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence about how well it works for certain conditions but we haven’t done any research.”
Marijuana, Clinton said, is “considered what’s called a Schedule 1 drug and you can’t even do research in it. So I would like to move it from what’s called Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 so that researchers at universities, at the National Institutes of Health could start researching what’s the best way to use it.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, the highest category for substances that the agency says has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Downgrading the drug to a Schedule 2 categorization would allow for fewer restrictions on medical research.
While Clinton has said before that she would like more research done on the substance and that she would change drug sentencing policies as part of a larger push on criminal justice reform, proposing to reclassify marijuana is a new position for the White House hopeful.
During Clinton’s South Carolina town hall, she posed further questions that could be answered with medical research: “If we’re going to have a lot of states setting up marijuana dispensaries so that people who have some kind of medical need are getting marijuana, we need to know what’s the quality of it, how much should you take, what should you avoid if you’re taking other medications.”
Clinton’s rivals for the Democratic nomination have also called for similar changes to the nation’s pot policies. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has promised to reclassify the drug while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders recently introduced a bill to end the federal ban on marijuana.
Clinton did not give her support for the federal government to legalize recreational marijuana, however. She said Saturday that she would like to “see how it works” in individual states “before we do a national plan.”