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Candidates on Cannabis

A look at how candidates stack up on cannabis issues for the Nov. 6 election

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With midterm elections just around the corner, the Arizona chapter of NORML has released its report card for candidates. If the future of cannabis sits high on your agenda, this is your guide for deciding who gets your vote.

Let's start with perhaps the biggest influence on cannabis policy: the governor.

Gov. Doug Ducey hasn't kept his opinion of cannabis a secret. He actively campaigned against Proposition 205 in 2016 and has said he'd veto any bill that came across his desk legalizing cannabis.

Even still, NORML gives him a C- for signing a bill legalizing hemp last legislative session and promising to work with the industry on some much-sought-after reforms in the next session.

His competitor David Garcia on the other hand, has supported the industry and would likely sign a bill legalizing cannabis, but has kept his distance on the subject.

NORML gives him a B+.

U.S. Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ02) and Krysten Sinema (D-AZ09) stepped out of the House of Representatives and into the race for the open Senate seat.

NORML calls McSally the "typical law-n-order" conservative, giving her a C-. She's supported expanding cannabis use for veterans, but not much else.

Sinema earned a B for supporting medical use and decriminalization, but she has expressed some reservations about recreational use.

With the safe bet that Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ03) will win re-election in his heavily Democratic district (and because he's voted in favor of cannabis in nearly every bill put in front of Congress), we'll focus on Congressional Districts 1 and 2.

In CD1, we have Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran defending his seat against Wendy Rogers. Both have been silent on the issue. While NORML has reached out to O'Halleran, they haven't gotten him to say much about cannabis. That earned him a C-.

Wendy Rogers, however, remains a question mark.

In CD2, Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick, the former District 1 representative, faces off against Republican Lea Marquez Peterson, president of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, for McSally's vacated seat.

NORML gave Kirkpatrick a C for not supporting recreational legalization even though she's finally come around to medical cannabis use.

Somehow, NORML forgot to include Marquez Peterson, but she served as a spokesperson for the opposition to the unsuccessful 2016 ballot prop that would have legalized recreational marijuana, saying Arizona should be focusing on economic development instead of another addictive substance and more government.

While she might change her tone at the national level, the warning signs point to a less hopeful outcome. For that, the Weekly will give her a D.

Next week, we'll take a look at candidates for the Arizona Legislature.

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