Video: Bill Clinton on why states should be able to opt for medical marijuana

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Bill Clinton in Denver. Additional photos and a video below.
The Clinton Global Initiative, which took place in Denver last week, received a showy national platform yesterday via an extended Meet the Press segment featuring former President Bill Clinton. Among the questions posed by host/interviewer David Gregory was one about medical marijuana, and Clinton's expressed support for state's rights strikes one cannabis advocate as another step in the political mainstreaming of pot.

Although Hillary Clinton was the marquee name at the latest Clinton Global Initiative owing to the likelihood that she'll run for president again in 2016....

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Photo by Jake Shane
...her husband loomed large over the proceedings as well:

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Photo by Jake Shane
Bill's on-stage chat with Gregory touched on a wide variety of subjects, including Hillary's claim that the Clintons came out of the White House "dead broke," plus the state of the economy, Syria and much more. But the quiz session concluded with this Gregory inquiry, prompted by the initiative's presence in Colorado:

Gregory: 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?

Clinton began with a joke: "Rocky mountain high?" he asked. But then he got serious:

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.

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Photo by Jake Shane
This position isn't far from one Hillary espoused earlier this month. As noted by the National Journal, she called for more studies into the medical effects of cannabis, saying, "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."

From a recreational standpoint, she also left her options open even as she alluded to the passage of legalization measures in Colorado and Washington circa 2012 in phrases that prefigured ones Bill deployed in Denver. "States are the laboratory of democracy," she said, adding, "I want to wait and see what the evidence is."

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Tom Angell in a 2012 photo.
"These remarks, combined with what Hillary Clinton said a few weeks ago about how 'states are the laboratory of democracy,' increase the chances that respecting state marijuana marijuana laws will be the default position for 2016 presidential candidates, at least on the Democratic side," Angell notes in an e-mail to Westword. "And with Republican Rand Paul, who also supports scaling back the war on marijuana, likely to run, this seems like it'll be among the issues that the candidates get asked about regularly in debates and by voters on the campaign trail. All of this increases our momentum and furthers the perception that marijuana reform is officially a mainstream issue that political candidates need to take seriously."

Here's the Meet the Press segment:

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Politics archive circa June 25: "Photos: Hillary and Bill Clinton hosting Clinton Global Initiative events in Denver."

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39 comments
Brenda Weston
Brenda Weston

They were co-presidents the first time and would be again. That's one way to get around the whole two terms per president rule. The Clinton's have had their turn. Time for them to retire.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Clinton happily continued the criminalization of American society begun by the pig Reagan; it is appalling that he or his wife continue to have political influence!

Moonie Kim
Moonie Kim

Lizzy Warren all the way!!!! There's so much more important happening than marijuana reform, and this is coming from someone who, frankly, adores weed.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

The Clintons, while much, much, much better than any republican going back to Eisenhower, they are still far to conservative.

Gabe Romero
Gabe Romero

I think she hasn't said anything that isn't appealing to the old guard. Show me you will stop throwing people in prison over weed. Show me you will stop letting corporations rape people. Say something that isn't a complete safety answer when asked. Take a fucking stand already.

Justin Hall
Justin Hall

I vote on political issues. Marijuana is not a political issue. Waste of time and money worrying about that. Politicians should be worries about the economy.

cardboardcowboy
cardboardcowboy

Over and over again, the Clintons prove the truth of the cliche about Democrats: they are pandering, populist gladhanders who say what they think people want to hear, all the while operating state power art and parcel with corporate interest. Clinton locked up more marijuana users than any president before him after all accounts demonstrated that he ate cosmic brownies like fiend in college. Now he sees the zeitgeist turning to the green and he's jumping on that bandwagon, dick in hand. If he thought more people favored an ongoing police state he would support that that as well...and has. 

Chris Brandt
Chris Brandt

Legal pot is the very least of our worries. All drugs should be decriminalized but that's not going to matter in the dictatorship in which the left wants us all to live.

Kyle Gregory
Kyle Gregory

If people vote on just this issue we are screwed

David Thead
David Thead

As a young conservative I think the Republicans have no chance if they march another Mitt Romney up there. Rand Paul sticks by his word and stops being such a puppet and more like his dad he might be able to gain some young votes with his stance. If its another Romney though, I would have no problem voting for Hillary. I mean even when Bill was president people said she was making decisions, and it also happened to be this country's most economically prosperous era in the last 30-40 years

Daniel Shalik
Daniel Shalik

What Bill says is meaningless now. Hillary wears the pants (pantsuits)

Matt Leising
Matt Leising

I wouldn't vote for her based on her history. She would make a terrible president.

Esteban Mainzer
Esteban Mainzer

she's too poor to be president. i want a rich white guy for a change.

Tim Hauger
Tim Hauger

Bills isnt Hillary, who gives a rats ass.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Angell's picture holding a sign is not an adequate introduction; one must infer that he is the "one cannabis advocate" referred to earlier in the article -- who is he?

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

Yeah, the Clintons, while better than ANY cultservaturd, are still FAR too conservative.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

Bernie Sanders is a great American. 

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Cannabis is at the heart of the criminalization of our society, and that issue should be considered the most important.  I favor Bernie Sanders for President, but Elizabeth can be VP.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

Of course the laws of the land are political issues.

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

"This would be a lot easier in a dictatorship, so long as I'm the dictator."  A quote from the worst president since reagan.

You just want meth, conservative candy, legalized.  Cultservaturds already act like they are on meth.

jpsnipeu2
jpsnipeu2

great post david, nevermind muhutdafuga the guy is trash

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

Yours is the most intelligent republican post I have seen in a long time.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

All Collaborationists (Democrats) and Fascists (Republicans) should be put in re-education camps, many, permanently.

jpsnipeu2
jpsnipeu2

You're just a teenie bopper you cant vote yet... dont lie I saw your 13yr old friends

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

Like Al Gore...he already won the presidential election once. 

jpsnipeu2
jpsnipeu2

@muhutdafuga So what do you call someone who believes firmly in the 2nd amendment,  dislikes the $10/hr minimum wage, and believes a gay man has the right to protect his legal pot plants with an assualt weapon?  You must have some sort of insult for that kind of person since you have nothing ever good to say.... shoot it out.. comon insult punk

jpsnipeu2
jpsnipeu2

@RobertChase wow so how do you round them all up genius?  You dont!  all you can do is rant, just rant because you got nothing!  Is your political beliefs so bad you have to brainwash people to agree with you?

muhutdafuga
muhutdafuga topcommenter

@jpsnipeu2 @muhutdafuga Now it is you being the common insult punk.  Based on your post, I would call you "Hypocrite."

You sound REALLY paranoid guarding a pot plant with an assault rifle.  You aren't allowed to mix your drugs with your ammosexual fetish item.  When you say you don't like $10 minimum wage, I'm not sure if you feel $10 is too little, or that you want even lower slave wages so CEOs can be GIVEN even more millions.  Thank you for your question.

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