Bill Clinton was mocked relentlessly during his first campaign for president in the early 90's when he said he had "experimented with marijuana a time or two" during his Rhodes scholar years in England, but actually never inhaled. But during an interview taped last week in Colorado for air on Sunday's Meet The Press
, the former president expressed ambivalent feelings about the increase of both medical and legalized marijuana in the country.
Cracking "Rocky Mountain High?," when asked by host David Gregory if it was time to give pot "a chance," the 42nd POTUS said he was sympathetic to the medical marijuana arguments, but said it's an issue that should be decided by the states - not the federal government.
We are in Denver; I've got to ask this last question. Back in the '60s, there was that saying, "Give peace a chance." I'm wondering if you think now it's time to give pot a chance. Would it actually help government raise revenue and deal with some of the things you're dealing with here at CGI?
PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON:
Rocky Mountain high? Look, I think there's a lot of evidence to argue for the medical marijuana thing. I think there are a lot of unresolved questions.
But I think we should leave it to the states. This really is a time when there should be laboratories of democracy because nobody really knows where this is going. Are there adequate quality controls? There's pot and there's pot; what's in it? What's going to happen? There are all these questions. And I think that, unlike where it is now, if the state wants to try it, they can. And then they'll be able to see what happens.
Hillary Clinton said earlier this month that she supports medical marijuana "for people who are in extreme medical conditions" and wants to "wait and see" how recreational pot works in Colorado and Washington state." Speaking to CNN's Christine Amanpour
, the former First Lady said, "At the risk of committing radical candor, I have to say I think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes. I don't think we've done enough research yet, although I think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and who have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should be availability under appropriate circumstances. But I do think we need more research because we don't know how it interacts with other drugs."
Tom Angell with the group Marijuana Majority
, wrote to CL after our initial post on Clinton's comments. He writes:
"These comments from a skilled politician who knows how to stake out positions that resonate with the majority of voters show just how far the politics of this issue have shifted in favor of legalization. When Bill Clinton was president his administration tried to punish doctors just for discussing medical marijuana with their patients. Now he not only says that there's a lot of evidence to support medical marijuana, but he thinks states should be able to legalize marijuana outright without the feds standing in the way. Whereas this issue was once seen as a political third rail, there's no question it has now emerged into the mainstream. Polls show that the majority of voters support legalization, and today's politicians have no choice but to catch up or get left behind."