With primary elections beginning in February, presidential campaigns have started to gain steam. These candidates face a plethora of issues, and the ever-relevant topic of how to approach cannabis remains a focus. Some have chosen to remain relatively low-key on the matter, while others have been more outspoken. Let's take a brief look at some of the top candidates thoughts when it comes to marijuana:


Hillary Clinton - Clinton has more or less avoided the subject since she announced her presidential bid earlier in the year, but briefly addressed it back in November. "The problem with medical marijuana is there's a lot of anecdotal evidence about how well it works for certain conditions, but we haven't done any research," she said. "Why? Because it's considered what's called a Schedule I drug, and you can't even do research on it." Clinton suggests reclassifying cannabis as a Schedule II drug which, by the DEA's definition, are "drugs with a high potential for abuse" that can lead to "severe psychological or physical dependence." Consider Clinton somewhat noncommittal when it comes to the issue.


Bernie Sanders - Sanders created quite a buzz in November when he introduced the aptly-named "Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act." The Vermont senator's plan proposes the total removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act, instead leaving the matter entirely in the hands of the states. "If a state wants to go forward, it should be able to do so without impediments from the federal government," he said, "which now prevent stores that sell marijuana from using banks, because that's in violation of federal law." Of all the major-party candidates, it doesn't get any more cannabis-friendly than Bernie.


Donald Trump - Trump has changed his tune quite a bit concerning cannabis over the years. In the early 1990s, he was quoted saying that we must "legalize drugs to win [the War on Drugs]," but then more recently stated, "I think it's bad. And I feel strongly about that." Basically, Trump doesn't appear thrilled about the idea of cannabis legalization at the federal level, but also caveated that statement by throwing in that he wouldn't stand in the way of an individual state's rights to legalize. Moreover, he has openly shown support for medical cannabis saying, "medical marijuana, 100 percent." As far as the conservative field is concerned, Trump's views on cannabis actually seem to be among the most lax.


Ben Carson - The retired brain surgeon is known for his far-right-leaning views, and his thoughts on cannabis certainly reflect that reputation. He was quoted in an interview earlier this year saying that he not only wants to continue the long-failing War on Drugs, he intends to "intensify it." Carson has admitted that medical cannabis can be useful in certain cases, but doesn't think that's enough to offset the negative effects caused by it. "Recognize that marijuana is what's known as a gateway drug." he said in 2014. "It tends to be a starter drug for people who move on to heavier drugs and I don't think this is something that we really want for our society." Compared to other issues, Carson appears relatively unconcerned with cannabis (his 'Ben on the Issues' page on his website doesn't address the matter), but has shown a clear inclination against marijuana when pressed.