NORML Releases 2018 Gubernatorial Scorecard

  • by NORML April 24, 2018

    We are pleased to release our 2018 Gubernatorial Scorecard. This extensive database assigns a letter grade ‘A’ through ‘F’ to states’ governors based upon their comments and voting records specific to matters of marijuana policy.


    • Twenty-four US governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (14 Democrats, 9 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
    • Of these, only two US governors, both Democrats, received an ‘A’ grade
    • Fifteen governors received a ‘B’ grade (9 Democrats, 5 Republicans, and 1 Independent)
    • Seven governors received a ‘C’ grade (4 Republicans and 3 Democrats)
    • Nineteen governors received a ‘D’ grade (18 Republicans and 1 Democrat)
    • Four governors received a failing ‘F’ grade (All Republicans)
    • Three governors received no grade because of insufficient data
    • Of the 31 Republican US governors receiving a letter grade, only nine of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (34 percent)
    • Of the 15 Democratic US governors receiving a letter grade, 14 of them received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher (93 percent)

    Commenting on the results, NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri stated, “While federal officials tend to receive most of the scrutiny in the fight for marijuana law reform, it is not just members of Congress who deserve our attention. In fact, with the majority of marijuana-related campaigns decided on the state level, it is our nation’s governors who often hold the key to our success or failure.”

    Similar to the findings of NORML’s 2016 Governors Scorecard, this gubernatorial analysis once again affirms that voters’ views on marijuana policy are typically more progressive than the views held by the highest elected officials in their states – only 48 percent of whom received a passing grade from NORML. For example, while 64 percent of Americans support legalizing the use and sale of cannabis for adults, only two Governors are public in their support of this position. Governors overall are also far less supportive of legislation to legalize the medical use of cannabis than are their constituents – more than 90 percent of whom back these type of reform measures.

    Also evident is that gubernatorial support for marijuana law reform often falls upon partisan lines. While 93 percent of Democratic governors received a passing grade of ‘C’ or higher, fewer than 40 percent of Republican governors did so. Further, nearly 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. (For example, according to 2017 Quinnipiac polling, 90 percent of Republicans, 95 percent of Democrats, and 96 percent of Independents favor “allowing adults to legally use marijuana for medical purposes.”)

    Altieri continued: “Voters need to push current governors and 2018 gubernatorial candidates to take a proactive and positive stance on marijuana policy. Constituents must let their governors know that holding positions on marijuana legalization that are of step with the will of state voters will cost them at the ballot box, and that embracing sensible reform policies will increase their support among voters.”

    He added: “Look to New Jersey as an example. The exit of anti-drug zealot Chris Christie and the election of pro-legalization Phil Murphy has changed the entire tenor of the debate. Already, the state is moving to expand and reinforce their long suffering medical marijuana program and his very election catapulted the topic of full legalization to the top of this year’s legislative priorities list.”

    To read NORML’s full report, please visit: http://norml.org/us-governors

    35 responses to “NORML Releases 2018 Gubernatorial Scorecard”

    1. Matt says:

      very helpful, informative, detailed… thanks NORML!

    2. Julian says:

      Wow. That’s a fairly dramatic contrast between Republican and Democratic Governors on marijuana policy.
      Thank you to all the NORML volunteers and interns who help do this vital work. Vetting our candidates and incumbents means chasing politicians down hallways and driving to campaign events. But we won’t be able to reform marijuana law without these stats.
      As a nonprofit, NORML has to keep a fairly bipartisan stance. Executive Director Erik Altieri is right to point out that Republican governors are not reflecting what a majority of Republican voters are demanding, which are fairly taxed marijuana markets. (So why keep voting for them?!)
      But for those of us who look at the prohibitionist Republican candidates and incumbents that keep getting trolled out Big Pharma, private prisons, private insurance, timber and petrol patent owners like the Koch brothers and the whole beaurocracy of the black market control of our DOJ, it’s leaving desperate patients and marijuana legalization advocates no choice but to vote Democratic or not vote at all.
      Texas Governor Greg Abbott vowed to “never sign a marijuana legalization bill.” But in 2015, under the pressure of patient advocates, Texas NORML, MPP, and a group called Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, he signed the Compassionate Use Act, admitting whole plant marijuana is medicine. Now Abbott hides from our Veteran advocates to avoid answering the growing call to legalize medical marijuana in January.
      But if Abbott won’t do what a majority of Texas wants, then it’s time for a new Democratic Governor to get the job done. Lupe Valdez will legalize marijuana and use the revenue to help balance our state’s growing education deficit. Low Republican oil tax just cant cover the holes they put in our school budget.

      Make marijuana a wedge issue for Democrats! It’s time to legalize marijuana once and for all!

      • Dain Bramage says:

        Why do Republicans vote against their best interests, even their own values?

        It’s a cult. A faith.

        For Republicans, issues are merely sales pitches for use in promoting Republicanism, regardless of what the Republican party itsef stands for, in word or in deed or in fact. Rand Paul is a good example. Talks pretty, but always votes with the fascists when it counts.

        Their only consistent principle is xenophobia: racism.

        While economic hardships may indeed foster fascism in white voters, Republican voters are clearly not motivated to vote on rational economic self-interest.

        It’s a cult of denial, deception, and malice. And their cult leaders are laughing all the way to the bank!

        • Dain Bramage says:

          I acknowledge the existence of groups like RAMP and LEAP, and applaud their efforts. I hope they are able to fundamentally change the Republican Party, more than softening the perception of the Republican Party.

        • Steven K Adams says:

          To be honest a lot of your younger Republicans do not see it this way.

          Even though I am considered a Moderate Conservative. I still vote towards majority Republicans except in local races.

          Doug Jones being the most recent Democrat I voted for.

          I am 28 , I want to run for Alabama HOR. As a Republican and for legalization of Marijuana, with the stipulation of the clean air act where it cannot be used in public places and as the same guidelines to alcohol and tobacco.

          However politicians such as Jeff Sessions gives Republicans a bad name. I’m here to let you know this is not the case from a lot of Younger Republicans.

          We see it’s a a new income to increase revenue for our communities, new medical fixes for different ailments, new ways to create products such as: plastic, paper, etc. Which will also reduce pollution as it is a natural biodegradable ingredient.

          So yes. Republicans aren’t all like that.

    3. Matt says:

      can’t post the link from this device, but check out the Yahoo! article on California GOP gov. candidate John Cox, who says marijuana users should be hospitalized. lol, what a joke. Let’s elect him, watch him make it happen….look at looney Ricketts of NE, Martinez, LePage. Others…. check out John Cox on weed, lol. What a dinosaur. lol, and Utah, near Dinosaur, CO. John Cox for gov….everbody do da dinosaur, lol!

    4. Frances says:

      Jared Polis helped pen amendment 64 and started the cannabis caucus here in Colorado. He currently serves in congress and is on the primary ticket for Democrats for the Colorado gubernatorial race. Polis

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        Jared Polis rocks. He does Colorado proud. This is the kind of Democrat you want fighting for you in office. Watch him rip a new asshole for Michele M. Leonhart, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) under the Obama administration, regarding the safety of cannabis.


        • Mark Mitcham says:

          So, even though Hickenlooper gets a decent grade from NORML, he plays both sides like a ferryman during the civil war (See: Clint Eastwood.)

          Hickenlooper opposed legalization when it was happening in his own state, don’t forget. Thanks for nuthin.

          He is coming out now, sort of, depending on if he thinks it’s safe for him politically. Hick’s hedging and lack of integrity passes for tolerance.

          So, I’ll vote for Polis!


          • Mark Mitcham says:

            Hick’s not running.

            From the link to Ballotpedia:
            Democratic Party primary elections will be held in Colorado on June 26, 2018, in order to select the party’s candidates for Colorado’s 2018 elections, including all seven of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, governor and lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, and state legislative elections.
            Notable primaries include a seat left open for the first time since 2009 in the 2nd District and three Democratic challengers of Rep. Mike Coffman’s (R) re-election bid in the 6th District, which was rated Toss-up by three outlets and called one of the top seven races to watch by Westword.[1]
            In the gubernatorial race, eight candidates filed to succeed outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), who was first elected in 2010. Heading into the 2018 election, Colorado was under divided government, with Republicans controlling the state Senate and Democrats the state House and the governorship. The state’s divided government has also been at stake in the legislative primaries.

          • Mark Mitcham says:

            Here’s what Hick is up to, according to:
            JOHN FRANK | jfrank@denverpost.com and MARK K. MATTHEWS | mmatthews@denverpost.com | The Denver Post
            PUBLISHED: March 12, 2018 at 6:00 am | UPDATED: March 12, 2018 at 1:07 pm
            Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking steps toward a presidential run in 2020, holding meetings with veteran political players, ahead of a visit to Iowa next month for an official trip that is sure to draw attention.

            The Democrat’s actions in recent months signal to his closest associates and top party strategists that the former Denver mayor and two-term governor is more serious than ever about mounting a White House bid against President Donald Trump.

            “John’s sense of timing in politics is his lucky star. It served him well when he ran for mayor and then governor. It may do the same for a run in 2020,” said Alan Salazar, Hickenlooper’s former chief political strategist.

            “The behind-the-scenes effort — detailed in records and described in more than a dozen interviews with Democratic insiders and Hickenlooper allies — suggests that Hickenlooper may start to formally explore a presidential run later this year, capitalizing on recent efforts to boost his national profile.”

            • Evening Bud says:

              Thanks for the details, Mark. The inside story is always appreciated and helpful in our decision-making.

        • Mark Mitcham says:

          Colorado Democratic primaries are June 26, 2018!


          • Mark Mitcham says:

            I just officially changed my registration party status from Green, to Democratic, after many many years.

            I voted for Hillary over Trump! I’m not crazy! But, for many years, I could not self-identify with either major party. That situation has changed; Democrats have evolved, Republicans have regressed. For evidence, look at the party positions on marijuana legalization!

            Trumpism is fascism. We must not split the progressive vote with third party support.

            It is now time to become a Democrat again!

            • Evening Bud says:


              Democrats have evolved, but there are still problems–the corporate Dems are often little more than Republican Lite. And the last thing we need in this country is two conservative parties, a Moderately Conservative Party and a Hard Right Party. We actually need a real liberal/progressive party, a party that really gives a shit for the little guy.

            • Dain Bramage says:

              True, Evening Bud, and the neo-liberals are already fucking things up with their “centrists.” Ha! As if there really was a center between Democracy and Fascism. There isn’t. The neo-liberals are the ones who are hellbent on losing elections to Republicans by selling-out to Corporate America, appealing to nobody, and splitting the progressive vote with protest votes toward third parties. But we cannot let that happen. Here’s why:

              Trump is a fascist dictator who’s onlay constraint, at present, is the need to consolidate absolute power. And he is working on that. The Republicans either support all that treason, or don’t believe in it, or most commonly of all, just don’t give a shit. They are stupidity incarnate.

              And so, we must stop Trump at any cost. We definitely don’t want to be a Russian-controlled province. American Democracy, including any hope of legalizing marijuana, depends upon it.

              Therefore: As horrible for any progressive to admit as it may be, at this point in history, ANY Democrat is better than ANY Republican.

              Look at it like this: vote Democratic, take back our government, and the WORST we will have to deal with will be the neo-lib’s. That’s a much, much better place than we are now, right?

            • Mark Mitcham says:

              Evening Bud,
              We want the same thing. But Trump is not there to govern, he is there to criminally plunder USA. He is not even on the democratic left/right spectrum. Republicanism is now Trumpism, which is fascism. I don’t think Trumpism is a political position at all, it is just flat-out treason. There is no governance, it’s all betrayal of Americans. So, this is unprecedented. Our only hope is a Democratic Wave, we can primary out the worst of them, but when it’s time to go up against the Republicans, we may have to hold our noses here and there. The worst case is a Republican, I am convinced.

            • Evening Bud says:

              I agree with both yours and Dain’s comments. There are a few Democratic politicos here in NM that I don’t really care for–but the alternatives, the GOpers–are always worse. So, I’ll keep voting Democratic, and then try to change things from there. I am trying to find out who the real progressives are in these races and supporting them.

              But it’ll be the same for me as in this last prexy election–I voted Bernie in the primary and Hillary in the general. And I believe I was right in both instances.

              So no, I can see through the haze.

    5. Matt says:

      Sessions on CSPAN3 today at 2:30P.M. for questioning by Senate on budget.

    6. Matt says:

      that Sessions hearing is Eastern Time, srry ab that

    7. Matt says:

      Lankford says he has not evolved on marijuana.

    8. Dain Bramage says:

      As a group (and they do walk in lockstep) Republicans are not intellectually honest.

      Yes, indeed… Faced with facts they don’t like, facts they can’t dispute, misrepresent, or ignore, the Republicans simply refuse to discuss the matter.

      Can you hear the crickets?

    9. Julian says:

      I know Evening Bud and Matt will appreciate this:


      The New Mexico Supreme Court invalidated 10 vetoes from Governor Martinez including a hemp bill which will now go into effect as state law.

      Part of the reason is she had three days to veto and gave no explanation for her veto.

      Oh what I wouldn’t pay for a Judge to order the Governor of New Mexico to explain in detail why she vetoed a job creating, climate and resource sustaining hemp bill… right down to disclosing her Koch-doners and their timber and petrochemical patents that will lose value under a legal carbon trapping, soil saving, petro fertilizer and herbicide reducing hemp economy. Of course these parasites never think into the near future when our entire planet will lose value just to protect their synthetic profits. Cant wait to see her replaced by a Democrat.

      • Matt says:

        Great to hear, yes indeed, thanks Julian!! 😀

      • Evening Bud says:

        Yes, Julian, I do appreciate it. I actually knew about that yesterday from one of the emails I receive on NM politics. But that’s just an opening salvo, I hope, of the changes we’ll see in NM next year. Keeping my fingers tightly crossed.

    10. PotinSC says:

      South Carolina Governor Henry McMasters got a “D” rating. How’s that possible. Last year he made a big announcement “that he would never legalize marijuana”.

      • Dain Bramage says:

        The grade seems generous, I agree. Based on what you say, and based on NORML’s own criteria, he should probably get an “F.”

        Here’s how the grades are calculated:

        The Congressional Scorecard grades members of the United States House and Senate on an ‘A’ to ‘F’ scale.
        An ‘A’ letter grade indicates that this member has publicly declared his/her support for the legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults.
        A ‘B’ letter grade indicates that this member supports policies specific to the legalization of medical cannabis and/or the decriminalization of cannabis.
        A ‘C’ letter grade indicates that this member has publicly declared his/her support for the ability of a state to move forward with cannabis law reform policies free from federal interference.
        A ‘D’ letter grade indicates that this member has expressed no support for any significant marijuana law reform.
        An ‘F’ letter grade indicates that this member expresses significant and vocal opposition to marijuana law reform.

        • Evening Bud says:


          Using this criteria, NM GOP gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce should probably be rated and “F.” He’s a typical right-wing corporate GOper, who opposes legalization.

          To look on his website, though, you’d think he’s a flaming liberal when it comes to the environment! Seems even Pearce knows that his real environmental stances would be hard for any but the most rabidly RW to stomach, so he couches his stances with a fake concern.

      • Negative Nancy says:

        Republican. That’s Republican South Carolina Governor Henry McMasters. Who gets a generous D, or an F.

        You can’t accuse NORML of “liberal bias,” anyway.