Candidates on Cannabis, Part 3

Here’s the final word on cannabis for Congressional and state candidates.

Congressman Raul Grijalva: “A Champion” on recreational marijuana, according to NORML.
Congressman Raul Grijalva: “A Champion” on recreational marijuana, according to NORML.

The midterm elections are less than three weeks away, and while cannabis doesn't seem to be a hot-button topic this year, our decision could end up shaping not just the future of cannabis in Arizona, but in the U.S.

The Arizona chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws updated its candidate report card with a little more robust description of where candidates stand.

But first, some polls.

The latest poll conducted on cannabis legalization in Arizona indicates 63 percent of Arizonans support adult-use cannabis legalization, according to OH Predictive Insights in February. This is way up from 2016, when an Arizona Republic poll showed just 50 percent of voters in favor of legalization.

That 63 percent figure matches up precisely with a nationwide poll conducted by Quinnipac University in April.

Support was above 50 percent for just about every demographic polled, including Pima County (52.6 percent) and Maricopa County (63.8 percent). Only Republicans at 48.2 percent and rural residents at 49.8 percent fell below the 50-percent threshold.

The good news is Arizona's current U.S. representatives roughly represent this breakdown with four Democrats and five Republicans. Rep. Martha McSally (R) even voted to expand access to medical cannabis for veterans in 2016.

U.S. Senate

The two likely candidates for Arizona's open Senate seats both have verifiable voting records as representatives. NORML gives McSally a C-, despite her refusal to discuss the subject.

Democratic opponent Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has a split record on cannabis, voting in favor of states' rights, but against federal legalization. NORML gives Sinema a B.

U.S. House

In Congressional District 3, Rep. Raul Grijalva's (D) opponent Nick Pierson has been silent on cannabis, and in lieu of a voting record or personal contact information, NORML refused to give him a grade.

Grijalva on the other hand is heralded as a "champion on the issue," supporting legalization at every opportunity. NORML gives Grijalva an A.

In Congressional District 2, former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) supports medical cannabis, but does not yet support adult-use legalization. NORML gives Kirkpatrick a C.

Her opponent, Lea Marquez Peterson, president of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, has donated to the anti-cannabis Smart Approaches to Marijuana initiative. Unsurprisingly, NORML gives Marquez Peterson an F.

In Congressional District 1, Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D) isn't hollerin' about cannabis. With a brief tenure in the House, he hasn't had an opportunity to vote on cannabis legislation, either. For avoiding the topic, NORML gives O'Halleran a C-. His opponent, Wendy Rogers, considers legalization a state's prerogative, but you won't find her supporting recreational cannabis any time soon. NORML gives Rogers a D.

State Races

In the race for governor, Gov. Doug Ducey appears to be coming around to the idea, signing off on hemp in the last legislative session and meeting with the Arizona Dispensaries Associations. Since May, though, he hasn't quite made himself available, presumably busy with an election. NORML gives Ducey a C-.

His challenger, David Garcia, railed against the appellate court ruling rendering concentrates illegal, but hasn't shown much support otherwise. NORML gives Garcia a B+.

In the race for attorney general, republican AG Mark Brnovich has done little to help or hurt the cannabis industry. He did let Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery fall flat on his face with his failed crusade against cannabis, so there's that. NORML gives Brnovich a C.

Democratic challenger January Contreras hasn't made up her mind about legalization but has supported the medical program and called for relaxing enforcement in the state. It's not much, but it isn't hard to beat Brnovich's middle-of-the-road approach. NORML gives Contreras a B+.

In the race for secretary of state, state Sen. Katie Hobbs (D) has said she supports the medical program, and has co-signed legislation but not much else. NORML gives Hobbs a C.

Republican candidate Steve Gaynor takes a hardline stance against legalizing recreational cannabis. NORML gives Gaynor an F.

Though cannabis likely isn't your sole concern when it comes to representation, the field offers few surprises in the way of support and opposition along party lines.

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