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On Wednesday evening at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, the issue of medical marijuana was finally addressed in a nationally televised presidential debate. The topic came up around two and half hours into the debate, with Senator Rand Paul, Governors Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, and businesswoman Carly Fiorina weighing in on the issue. While part of the time was spent on Paul pointing by the racial disparity of marijuana arrests and Bush's hypocrisy on marijuana penalties by discussing Bush's well-documented use as a youth, the candidates also covered safe and legal access for patients.
Again, Paul went on the offensive with Bush, calling out his opposition to Amendment 2, which would have created a full and comprehensive medical marijuana program for patients in the state. Paul also brought up the issue of CBD oil by pointing out that federal law still makes patients and parents criminals. Paul went on to speak in favor applying the 10th Amendment to state marijuana laws. Bush, for his part, also spoke in favor of allowing the states to decide and endorsed the Florida state legislature's 2014 CBD law. But while it was clear the Paul is a true supporter of medical marijuana access, Bush's support seemed to be regrettably acquiescing to the will of the legislature.
Governor Christie couldn't resist and entered the fray by some how claiming he supports medical marijuana in his state. This self-proclamation, of course, must have been news to patients in New Jersey as it goes almost completely against his track record. While Christie has not completely shut down the program, he has resisted attempts to improve patient access in his state and he would shut down state programs if elected to the White House. In fact, he said that state medical marijuana programs are "a front for legalization."
Carly Fiorina also weighed in by discussing the loss of her daughter to drug addiction. She then went on cite the gateway theory as the reason why we cannot allow states to have their own marijuana laws. Readers of this blog are likely already aware that the gateway theory has been widely debunked yet remains one of the myths about medical marijuana that won't go away. In fact, the opposite appears to be true as their is growing evidence that marijuana can be therapeutically utilized as an "exit drug" from dependency on other substances from pharmaceuticals such as opioids to cigarettes and alcohol.
The conversation about medical marijuana during last night's debate may have been brief, but it's an issue that is unlikely to go away. Support for medical marijuana is overwhelming positive and medical marijuana often receives more votes than the candidates in elections.