“I’m not going to get into the use of medical marijuana,” RNC chair Ronna McDaniel said, adding that cannabis should be left up to the states.
The head of the Republican National Committee refused to answer questions whether or not medical cannabis users had a home in the modern GOP. Instead, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel insisted that cannabis should be left up to the states and the Republican party had no official policy comments on the matter.
McDaniel was interviewed by Gray Television Washington News Bureau reporter Alana Austin, who had recently profiled Virginia-based RNC delegate Dean Peterson’s journey using cannabis to treat his chronic pain. Peterson had canvassed Page County during the 2016 election to support Donald Trump, who had then voiced support for medical cannabis and leaving alone states with regulated marijuana markets.
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Austin asked RNC chair McDaniel: “Is there a place in the GOP for folks who support medical marijuana?”
“I don’t really address policy issues like medical marijuana,” McDaniel responded. “That’s left up to the states and there’s going to be variances between states. But that’s not something that the RNC puts forward as policy. That’s a legislative issue.”
“We’re actually a body that helps elect Republicans and turn out the vote,” she continued. “That’s what we’re focused on for the next 69 days is turning out that vote to reelect President Trump, keep the Senate and take back the House.”
A disabled Virginia RNC delegate found comfort in marijuana after suffering from chronic pain for years. He shares his story, and @alana_austin asks the RNC chair Ronna McDaniel about the party's stance on cannabis. Watch here >>> https://t.co/OcgjBm9ngW pic.twitter.com/PrwBbRZwKA
— Gray Television Washington News Bureau (@GrayDCnews) August 26, 2020
The issue is an important one for Republican voters who also support access to legal cannabis. Trump expressed in 2018 he would back the STATES Act — legislation that would protect legal marijuana states from federal interference — but the bill was blocked by Senate Majority Leader and Trump associate Mitch McConnell.
This year, however, the Trump Administration has an association with prohibitionist actions that may cause alarm to cannabis advocates. Trump advised Republicans to keep legalization off the ballots this November if they want to win and the President reportedly fears that if states allow voters an opportunity to legalize cannabis, it would lose him the White House.
The RNC did not create a new platform for the 2020 Election and will re-use its national platform from 2016. That platform does mention marijuana and states in “many jurisdictions, marijuana is virtually legalized despite its illegality under federal law.”
It also mentions that: “All this highlights the continuing conflicts and contradictions in public attitudes and public policy toward illegal substances. Congress and a new administration should consider the long-range implications of these trends for public health and safety and prepare to deal with the problematic consequences.”
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But when Austin asked McDaniel a follow-up question about medical cannabis, the RNC head did not budge.
“I’m not going to get into the use of medical marijuana,” said McDaniel.
“We didn’t have a platform this year because of changing our rules,” she continued. “That’s going to be left up to the states and our legislators and I’m not going to engage in something that hasn’t been vetted through our full platform and the ability for our delegates to meet to discuss an issue like that.”