Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have at least one thing in common heading into the November election: They’re both looking to Colorado before taking a stance on marijuana.
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee and the Democratic frontrunner face four states – Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington – where marijuana is legal for recreational use as well as a national electorate that leans toward supporting legalization.
Going after the pot vote could be tricky. Cannabis is still an illegal substance under federal law in the same category as heroin, ecstasy and peyote. There are also concerns about related health and safety issues and a lingering negative stigma about the drug.
Neither Trump or Clinton can draw from personal experience when setting pot policy, they say.
In 2014, Clinton told CNN, “I didn’t do it when it was young. I’m not going to start now.”
In February, Trump told Fox News, “No, I have never [smoked marijuana]. I’ve never smoked a cigarette either.”
They’re equally in favor of medicinal use and undecided on recreational marijuana.
Trump could ask his friends about the pros and cons of cannabis. In a different interview, Trump told Fox he knows people who have benefited from medical marijuana. Both the business mogul and former secretary of state are on the record as being “100 percent” in favor of the drug being used to treat illnesses.
Both candidates are watching and waiting before making a decision on whether to support marijuana being available to the larger public.
“I’m watching Colorado very carefully to see what’s happening out there… I’m getting some OK reports, but I’m getting some very negative reports coming out of Colorado as to what’s happening,” Trump said on MSNBC in March.
Clinton echoed that approach while on Good Morning America in April.
“I’m also someone who believes that the states can be those laboratories of democracy, so I’m watching carefully what’s happening in the states that have legalized it to learn from them so we can base the best policy on that,” she said.
Pot-friendly states probably won’t decide the election.
Most voters likely won’t pick the president based solely on the issue of marijuana legalization.
Since joining the union in 1959, Alaska has only picked one Democrat for president. Oregon and Washington have been reliably blue since ’88. But the great state of Colorado, where cannabis is a $1 billion industry, can swing either way.