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Weed Watch: Democrats on drugs, part II

By Jordan Smith, January 9, 2004, News

On Jan. 6, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Marijuana Policy Project issued its final report cards for each of the major presidential candidates, grading them based on their support for medical marijuana. In just eight months of campaigning and lobbying the candidates, the MPP reports success in persuading six of the nine major candidates to adopt various positive positions on medical marijuana. Topping the list is Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who earned an A+. The MPP notes that Kucinich told the San Francisco Chronicle that he supports medical marijuana "without reservation" and that as president he would be willing to sign an executive order permitting its use. Also at the top of the class: former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, who earned an A and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, with an A-. Both pledged to end Drug Enforcement Administration-led raids on medical marijuana patients, as did retired Gen. Wesley Clark, whom the MPP awarded a B+. The Rev. Al Sharpton earned a B.

Conversely, the current Dem front-runner, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, failed the MPP's exam, earning a D- for his wishy-washy stance on medical pot. During a town hall meeting, Dean told the MPP that he doesn't believe in putting sick people in prison for using medical marijuana -- "I don't believe in what Ashcroft's doing about medical -- putting people in prison who are, who have AIDS," he said. But Dean, a physician, still doesn't support medical pot, for reasons that aren't exactly clear: "I stopped a medical marijuana bill in my Legislature," when he was governor, he said. "Because I'm a doctor, I think substances taken into your body have to be treated the same if they are meant to be medicines, no matter what they are." And, the MPP reports, Dean has called for a mere one-year moratorium on federal raids on medical marijuana users -- why, and to what end, are completely unclear.

Still, for all his sponginess, Dean fared better than either President Bush or the other three Democratic candidates -- North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman. Each earned big fat F grades from the MPP for failing to call for an end to the federal raids. For more on the report cards and candidates' positions on pot, check out and

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