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NORML Releases Gubernatorial Report Card: Learn Where Your Governor Stands On Marijuana Policy

  • by Danielle Keane, NORML Associate October 27, 2016

    Governors Scorecard

    With the 2016 election only days away, NORML is pleased today to release of our first ever Gubernatorial Scorecard. Inspired by NORML’s Congressional Scorecard, this extensive database assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to every state governor based upon his or her comments and voting records specific to matters of marijuana policy.

    Public opinion in support of marijuana law reform is at an all-time high. Nonetheless, few federal lawmakers are espousing views on cannabis policy that comport with those of the majority of their constituents. As a result, most legislative activity specific to marijuana policy is taking place at the state level. America’s governors are our nation’s most powerful, state-elected officials and they therefore play a key role in this ongoing legislative debate. NORML’s new Scorecard provides voters in all 50 states with pertinent information regarding where their governor stands on issues surrounding cannabis policy.

    KEY FINDINGS

    • 28 US governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (17 Democrats and 11 Republicans)
    • Of these, only two US governors, both Democrats, received an ‘A’ grade
    • 17 governors received a ‘B’ grade (11 Democrats and 6 Republicans)
    • Nine governors received a ‘C’ grade (5 Republicans and 4 Democrats)
    • 13 governors received a ‘D’ grade (All Republicans)
    • Seven governors received a failing ‘F’ grade (All Republicans)
    • Two governors received no grade because of insufficient data
    • Of the 31 Republican US governors currently in office, 11 of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (35 percent)
    • Of the 18 Democratic US governors currently in office, 17 of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (94 percent)

    THE TAKEAWAY

    Similar to the findings of NORML’s Congressional Scorecard, this gubernatorial analysis affirms that voters’ views on marijuana policy are typically more progressive than the views held by the highest elected officials in their states — 56 percent of whom received a passing grade from NORML. For example, while sixty percent of Americans support legalizing the use and sale of cannabis for adults, only four percent of state governors voice support for this position. Governors overall are also far less supportive of legislation to legalize the medical use of cannabis than are their constituents – approximately 80 percent of whom back these type of reform measures.

    Governors ScorecardAlso evident is that gubernatorial support for marijuana law reform falls primarily upon partisan lines. While over 94 percent of Democratic governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (one Democrat received no grade), fewer than 40 percent of Republican governors did so. Further, all of the governors who received either a ‘D’ or a failing grade from NORML are Republicans. Conversely, both of the governors who received a ‘A’ grade from NORML are Democrats. This partisanship lies largely in contrast to voters’ sentiments, as the public tends to view many aspects of marijuana law reform, such as the regulation of medicinal cannabis, as non-partisan issues.

    Commenting on the report’s findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “It is apparent that voters’ views regarding marijuana policy have evolved significantly over the past decades. Yet, the positions of their governors have not progressed in a similar manner. Constituents ought to demand that their lawmakers legislate on behalf of policies that more closely reflect marijuana’s rapidly changing legal and cultural status.”

    To read how NORML’s grades were calculated and to review the individual profiles for the governors of all 50 states, please visit: http://norml.org/us-governors.

    30 Responses to “NORML Releases Gubernatorial Report Card: Learn Where Your Governor Stands On Marijuana Policy”

    1. Mark Mitcham says:

      The disconnect between our elected officials and their constituents on the issue of marijuana legalization, for both Democrats and Republicans, is wide.

      The disconnect is far wider for Republicans than it is for Democrats; this makes Democrats the preferred political choice for us legalize-it types, to the extent that we now have a consensus.

      What could explain these discrepancies? Simple: Corporate influence. The relative relationships between Corporate America and the two dominant political parties follows this same general pattern, from the union-busting Republicans to their neo-liberal Democratic enablers.

      I don’t think we’re going to turn America Socialist anytime soon, even speaking as a Bernie supporter (now Hillary. There’s no other way.)

      Therefore, at this moment in history, the only way to combat this powerful enemy, Corporate America, (led by the usual suspects: Alcohol industry, Big Pharma, the Prison industry, the “forfeiture industry”, etc.) …IS TO VOTE THEIR TRAITOROUS POLITICAL PUPPET ASSES OUT OF OFFICE!!

      I dropped my ballot off a couple days ago.

      I voted for Hillary, and Democratic on down the line. My Representatives in Colorado got “B’s” or better, according to NORML.

    2. James Borregard says:

      How Rick Snyder gets anything beyond an “F” rating is beyond me. The guy is responsible for lead poisoning an entire city.

      [Paul Armentano responds: As explained in our summary, the grades are based on Governor’s statements and actions specific to cannabis policy, not with regard to other issues.]

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Your point about Gov Snyder is well taken. But I also approve of the approach taken by NORML in scoring governors, in general. This is because the scorecard is a tool, not a rule!

        Personally, if I were a constituent, I couldn’t vote for Snyder no matter what he said about cannabis. I just couldn’t defend my support for him, in light of his crimes against his own constituents regarding lead in the water supply.

        That would be a lose-lose situation, I admit. But we must remember that just as smoking pot doesn’t make one a “bad” person, neither does it make one a “good” person. I’m not saying he’s a “bad” person — I’m just avoiding personal judgement altogether.

        How, then, to evaluate this dilemma? I say, Harm Reduction is a principle that is very helpful in sorting all this out, and for establishing ethical priorities.

        • Julian says:

          Excellent example: Gary Johnson
          Just because he smokes weed and wants to legalize doesn’t make him a good person much less a relevant candidate. He wants to legalize marijuana but he can’t find Aleppo or even name a major world leader. He, (like many Libertarians), would like to abolish the DEA but if you keep listening he wants to abolish the Department od Education, the Department of Commerce and Income tax! Ask him what to do without all the public services or a platform for climate change? He literally said, ” in 3 or 4 billion years the sun will explode,” so why fix climate change?
          Just goes to show you can give someone a joint but you can’t fix stupid.

    3. Julian says:

      Great work! We needed this Gubernatorial scorecard even more than I had previously imagined.
      It makes no surprise to me if Governor Abbott, R-TX receives a failing grade, and I believe he deserves nothing more than a D-minus. (He got a “D”) The state legislature put Abbott and DPS in charge of dispensary licencing and now they are upping the application and permitting fee to more than 1 million dollars! If you are from Texas please click here to Take Action:

      http://action.mpp.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19888

      When Abbott signed the Compassionate Use Act last year, right in front of Texas NORML executive director Jax Finkle and MPP ex. Dir. Heather Fazio he said, ” I will never sign a medical marijuana bill.” (But you just did Abbott… admitting to the state of Texas that whole plant marijuana, however low in THC, is medicine). Now Abbott is saying he won’t allow any legal marijuana with “street value.” Basically Abbott is tied to the corrupt Sherriff’s Associations and like most Republican governors, are married to racially disproportionate asset forfeitures that line local and state budgets. Even CPS in Texas is under investigation for corruption and kickbacks as nearly 200 children died in abusive situations UNDER STATE SUPERVISION even though CPS received millions more in budget last year, on top of the federal kickbacks that Texas Health and Human Services receive from the DOJ for closing drug related cases. Ultimately the corruption between federal drug contracts and the governors offices has to stop.

      • Julian says:

        Clarification; the Texas Department of Public Safety raised the application fee for low THC marijuana dispensaries from $12,000 to 2.5 million dollars per application. No other state with any kind of medical marijuana or low THC high CBD legislation comes anywhere close to these outrageous fees. Even if the law changed the language to “recommends” the medicine would be too expensive, and the majority of people Ive met suffering from seizures say that high CBD is ineffective, and that high THC contents are often necessary to stop the seizures.

    4. Julian says:

      At the recent NORML training seminar in San Antonio for marijuana policy Jax Finkle reminded us that “state legislation can pass without the governor’s signature.” This is a valuable tool for one because it beats bargaining with the Devil to try and calculate dosage when none of us involved are doctors! But also, getting legislation passed the Governor’s desk without a signature allows Abbott to save his ugly face as NORML can bring protests to persuade the governor to not veto expansion to the CUA or any marijuana reform at the state level whatsoever. And protest we will. Ive met some very brave and eloquent veterans who have marched with me in the rain, spoken to local news networks and are pressuring Abbott into a face to face meeting to address something real simple;

      Only DOCTORS and PATIENTS should be discussing DOSAGE or the cost of medical services for that matter. NOT governors, not even activists if were not the licensed professionals we are permitting to “recommend” much less diagnose. We will accept nothing less. Last I checked NONE of these Governors are doctors, nor should they be. Neither is DPS. And clearly, the Texas Department of Health is an unholy pit of corruption. Texas is going to have to develop a new regulatory department for marijuana.

    5. Miles says:

      This may be a dumb question but I would really like to know. In your article you wrote: “Constituents ought to demand…”.

      My question is: How does one demand, legally, in a way that will get results?

      I believe that if I wrote a nice letter to my Governor demanding that marijuana be decriminalized that it would either go straight in their trash, or they would send the police out to investigate me.

      A good answer just might help speed up the ouster of prohibition. God knows that can’t happen soon enough for those that suffer at the hands of a really bad law.

      [Paul Armentano responds: Communicate with your elected officials. Use these communications as a teaching moment. If they refuse to listen, make it clear in language politicians understand: votes. Make it clear that you will choose not to vote for them and you will encourage others not to vote for them until they amend their position.]

    6. Simon Hardinsky says:

      Virginia will be among the last states to legalize any use of cannabis. One reason for this is that the seat of the pharmaceutical industry lies within the state borders, especially Richmond, the capital. Money trickles down from the top of the pyramid to ensure that profits from F.D.A. approved drugs are protected because most of the costs of their wares are related to marketing and advertising after F.D.A. approval.

      In Virginia, cannabis oil is legal for the treatment of epilepsy and marijuana is legal for patients who have cancer and glaucoma. Otherwise it is up to thirty days in jail and a five hundred dollar fine for possession up to a half ounce of herb. It is too bad that a plant that can cure many diseases has to be illegal when the legal pills and potions only treat diseases and more than often incur side effects that require more legal treatments because these greedy people don’t care about anyone except more money in their pockets.

      • Don M says:

        I too live in Virginia and I hate it here. I intend to move my family to a more cannabis friendly state as soon as we can afford it. Many of my neighbors feel the same way. We get together, consume our favorite herb, and talk. Often we talk about how screwed up the laws in Virginia are. This is the kind of thing that Nixon just hated about the hippies and why he went after them with such vigor. The powers here would prefer a population that just bends over to their will. As an American, I just won’t do that. If I have to leave this awful state to find real freedom, the kind promised by our Bill of Rights and our Constitution, then that is what I will do.

        I have really come to hate some of the politico-elite here in Virginia; like Rob Wittman. It seems that he is very happy having a giant prison population if the alternative is letting adults enjoy a bit of the herb.

    7. Joey says:

      I appreciate NORML’S scoring of governors as it helps me to better navigate the political landscape. :)

      Thank you!

    8. Evening Bud says:

      I had a feeling my Gov, Susana Martinez, was gonna get a big fat “F.”

      Can hardly wait for that liquor-guzzling hypocrite to leave office. Her daddy was a cop, and she has that same mentality.

    9. Mark I. says:

      Our govenor is stealing from the students to give to the corporate overseers. Funds meant for children are balancing their budgets. We were told the profits from gambling would go to education. When what you say does not match what you do, you are taking and not giving.

    10. Rocky Coast says:

      Chris Christie should get nothing above a “D-“, and he qualifies in every sense of the word for an “F”.

      The medical cannabis law was signed into law by Corzine, not Christie. Also, the implementation was delayed under Christie’s watch. It is noted that Christie slightly expanded the law. (Hence, the D-)

      He has been one of the most vocal opponents against cannabis law reform.

      Chris Christie is my #1 reason I’m not voting for Trump. Once that belligerent Neocon fascist joined Trump’s team, Trump has been spewing out all the failed “law and order” rhetoric.

      • Julian says:

        @Rocky Coast,
        Ive shared several times on this blog how Trump scapegoating our failed drug policies with racist propaganda against Mexicans is invoking the ghost of Harry Anslinger. It never matters if racists or in thus case, Trump voters, even believe that “Mexicans are sending us their rapists,” The purpose of racism always tries to divide all groups in society for the acquisition of property from the targeted minority. Thats true whether were talking about incarcerating immigrant women and children for billion dollar federal grants or lining local police budgets with asset forfeitures.
        John Oliver from Last Week Tonight recently did a revealing piece on racism in New York City. He shows how desegregation in public schools “skipped” the north. As a result the “liberal” cronyism is barely even aware of its own racist identity, so that white kids in Jersey grow up smoking and selling weed while black kids go to jail.
        And thats still how it is today, not yet comparing to the generations of Chris Christi or Donald Drumph. Keep in mind, its no small coincidence Drumph wants to hire the “best” prosecutors and expand the drug war bureocracy; Drumph owes Christi a favor for all those tax credits building those Casinos in Atlantic City using other people’s money. And with all the investment from Casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson into both endorsing Trump with his puppet Vegas newspaper and dumping 3.5 million into anti-marijuana legalization campaigns its more apparent than ever that Drumph is no friend of our movement and simply wants to maintain the new Jim Crow establishment.

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