Hillary Clinton Evolves on Another Issue

The potential presidential candidate fields questions on a range of topics and leaves the door open to marijuana legalization.

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 25: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during the annual Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) meeting on September 25, 2013 in New York City. Timed to coincide with the United Nations General Assembly, CGI brings together heads of state, CEOs, philanthropists and others to help find solutions to the world's major problems. 
Getty Images
Alex Seitz Wald
Add to Briefcase
Alex Seitz-Wald
June 17, 2014, 2:28 p.m.

At a town hall hos­ted by CNN on Tues­day, Hil­lary Clin­ton’s book tour felt more like a pres­id­en­tial cam­paign than ever as she fielded ques­tions on a wide range of is­sues, in­clud­ing some that were far afield from her new mem­oir about her time as sec­ret­ary of State.

One of the hot­test is­sues in lib­er­al polit­ics these days has been re­form to laws gov­ern­ing marijuana, but Clin­ton hasn’t spoken pub­licly about the is­sue since her 2008 pres­id­en­tial cam­paign, when she flatly op­posed leg­al­iz­a­tion.

“I don’t think we should de­crim­in­al­ize it,” she said at Ply­mouth State Uni­versity in New Hamp­shire in 2007. “But we ought to do re­search [in­to] what, if any, be­ne­fits it has.”

On Tues­day, she was more amen­able to change. On med­ic­al marijuana, Clin­ton called for more re­search in­to its be­ne­fits, without doubt­ing they ex­ist, but she stopped short of en­dors­ing the wide­spread ad­op­tion of med­ic­al laws. “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,” she said.

On re­cre­ation­al use, she was per­haps even more open to re­form. “States are the labor­at­ory of demo­cracy,” she said, not­ing that Col­or­ado and Wash­ing­ton had leg­al­ized the drug via ref­er­enda in 2012. “I want to wait and see what the evid­ence is” from the two states, she said.

Her evol­u­tion on the is­sue mir­rors that of the Demo­crat­ic Party and the coun­try as a whole, which has be­come much more fa­vor­able to drug re­form since Clin­ton last ran for of­fice or lived in the White House, said Tom An­gell, the founder of the pro-re­form group Marijuana Ma­jor­ity.

“Her open­ness to let­ting states pro­ceed with im­ple­ment­ing out­right marijuana leg­al­iz­a­tion shows just how far the polit­ics of this is­sue have shif­ted since the 90’s, when her hus­band’s ad­min­is­tra­tion tried to pun­ish doc­tors just for dis­cuss­ing the med­ic­al use of marijuana with their pa­tients,” An­gell said in an email, re­fer­ring to a case when the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment threatened to re­voke a phys­i­cians’ abil­ity to write pre­scrip­tions over med­ic­al marijuana.

Kev­in Sa­bet, however, the co-founder of Smart Ap­proaches to Marijuana, which op­poses leg­al­iz­a­tion, down­played Clin­ton’s evol­u­tion. “I don’t think we should read too much in­to these com­ments. If any­thing, she stopped short of em­bra­cing leg­al­iz­a­tion, and I have a feel­ing that once she learns more about Col­or­ado’s neg­at­ive ex­per­i­ences, and the profit-seek­ing motives of today’s Big Marijuana in­dustry, she’ll dis­ap­point a lot of leg­al­iz­a­tion ad­voc­ates,” he said in an email.

She ad­ded that — un­like her hus­band, who in­fam­ously “didn’t in­hale” — she has nev­er tried marijuana and has no plans to. “I didn’t do it when I was young. I’m not go­ing to start now,” she said with a laugh as the mod­er­at­or, CNN’s Chris­ti­ane Aman­pour, asked if she wanted to try tak­ing a puff.

Asked about gun con­trol, Clin­ton echoed her com­ments at a be­ha­vi­or­al health con­fer­ence in May when she made a strong call for rein­ing in guns. “We can­not let a minor­ity of people — and that’s what it is, a minor­ity — hold a view­point that ter­ror­izes a ma­jor­ity of people,” she said.

On the de­teri­or­at­ing situ­ation in Ir­aq, Clin­ton was asked about a po­ten­tial deal with Ir­an to roll back ad­vances made by Is­lam­ist in­sur­gents in re­cent days. Clin­ton said it was too soon to say.

She also dodged a ques­tion on wheth­er race is a factor in the heated op­pos­i­tion to Barack Obama. She agreed the at­tacks were of­ten “vir­u­lent” but said it would be un­fair to say they were race-based.

On vot­ing rights, an­oth­er hot top­ic on the left, Clin­ton called for auto­mat­ic voter re­gis­tra­tion — she in­tro­duced a bill in the Sen­ate to make that a real­ity — and said that she “de­plore[s] the at­tempts of some to re­strict the right to vote.”  

Asked about the ob­vi­ous — a po­ten­tial pres­id­en­tial run — Clin­ton ac­know­ledged that it’s as much a per­son­al de­cision for her as a polit­ic­al one. “I will make this de­cision based on how I feel about it, and what I be­lieve I can do,” she said.

The crowd of about 190 people at CNN’s town hall, in­clud­ing stu­dents and rep­res­ent­at­ives of loc­al non­profits, was friendly and sup­port­ive, dol­ing out gen­er­ous ap­plause to most of Clin­ton’s an­swers.

This story has been up­dated to in­clude com­ment from An­gell and Sa­bet.

What We're Following See More »
PLENTY OF MISTAKES IN COVERT TESTS
Report: U.S. Ill-Equipped to Detect Dirty Bomb
6 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

A DHS report "found gaping holes in domestic nuclear detection and defense capabilities and massive failures during covert testing." A team put in place to assess our readiness capabilities found significant issues in detecting dangerous radioactive and nuclear materials, failing to do so in 30 percent of covert tests conducted over the course of the year. In far too many cases, the person operating the detection device had no idea how to use it. And when the operator did get a hit, he or she relayed sensitive information over unsecured open radio channels."

Source:
WON’T INTERFERE IN STRUCTURING NSC OFFICE
White House to Give McMaster Carte Blanche
8 hours ago
THE LATEST
RESTROOM ISSUES RETURN
Trump To Rescind Trans Protections
9 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Donald Trump is planning to reverse an Obama-era order requiring that schools allow students to use the bathroom that coincides with their gender identity. Trump "has green-lighted the plan for the Justice Department and Education Department to send a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools rescinding the guidance." A case is going before the Supreme Court on March 28 in which Gavin Grimm, a transgender high school student, is suing his high school for forbidding him to use the men's room.

Source:
NAIVE, RISK TAKER
Russia Compiling Dossier on Trump’s Mind
10 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

Retired Russian diplomats and members of Vladimir Putin's staff are compiling a dossier "on Donald Trump's psychological makeup" for the Russian leader. "Among its preliminary conclusions is that the new American leader is a risk-taker who can be naïve, according to a senior Kremlin adviser."

Source:
PLANS TO CURB ITS POWER
Pruitt Confirmed As EPA Head
4 days ago
BREAKING
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login