The Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary are over, and the results are in: New York real estate tycoon Donald Trump holds the Republican lead, barely, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has pulled ahead on the Democratic side – for now.
But what does all this mean for marijuana in America? Is national legalization getting more or less likely? And who is best poised to get it done?
As a general, practical matter, the outcome on both sides augurs well for the future of cannabis reform. Sanders is more progressive on legalization than his only opponent, Hillary Clinton, and while Trump purportedly opposes the idea, he has backed it in the past and is notorious for his ideological inconsistency.
Of course, Iowa and New Hampshire are just two small states out of 50. Few delegates were up for grabs in either state in either party, and the field is still wide open.
Iowa: Clinton beat Sanders, Cruz beat Trump
The results in Iowa, which voted Feb. 9, were muddled at best. Clinton beat Sanders in a squeaker while front-runner Trump suffered a painful defeat at the hands of fellow Republican Ted Cruz, a U.S. senator from Texas.
New Hampshire: Sanders beat Clinton, Trump beat Kasich
In New Hampshire, meanwhile, Sanders scored a lopsided win over Clinton while Trump took a strong first place, followed by former Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush finished third, and the results were likely to drive most other GOP contenders out of the race.
So who supports reform and what does the current race say about the odds they’ll succeed?
Sanders only candidate who openly supports
Sanders’ backing for legalization is well known. Of all candidates on both sides, he is the most likely to push reform while in office. Last year he sponsored legislation in the Senate that would reschedule marijuana under federal law, opening the door to federal legalization.
But there is no guarantee yet that Sanders will win the nod. Clinton has a wider base of support in many of the states that haven’t voted yet, including minority voters, moderates, and older Democrats. Thankfully, she supports medical marijuana and has said she will keep an open mind about legalization.
There really is no Republican candidate who currently favors legalizing cannabis for personal use. But Trump was once quoted – though not recently – as supporting legalization of all drugs.
Trump is not known for consistency. He has changed virtually every position he has ever held at one time or another, and now says he opposes legalization (like Clinton, he still supports medical marijuana). But a President Trump could easily flip-flop once in office.
The race is by no means settled on either side. The GOP establishment will keep trying to derail Trump and Cruz, while Clinton will try to use more traditional Democratic coalitions to beat Sanders and his socialist followers.
In any event, the early results are a good sign for cannabis and those who smoke it. Expect to hear more about legalization on the campaign trail, much more, and get ready to cast your vote for a future with more weed in it.