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Executive Summary

NORML is pleased to announce the release of our 2018 Gubernatorial Scorecard. Inspired by NORML's Congressional Scorecard, this extensive database assigns a letter grade 'A' through 'F' to states' governors based upon his or her comments and voting records specific to matters of marijuana policy.

Public opinion in support of marijuana law reform, including adult use legalization, 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 takes place at the state level. America's governors are our nation's most powerful state-elected officials and they often play a key role in this ongoing legislative debate. Here is where each of them stands on issues surrounding cannabis policy.

KEY FINDINGS

  • 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)

THE TAKEAWAY

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.")

In sum, 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 parallel 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.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This information is continually changing and was last updated 4/12/2018. If you have an additional public comment that we do not have record of or any additional information please email politics@norml.org.

Important and timely publications such as this are only made possible when concerned citizens become involved with NORML. Please consider making a today so we may continue to work towards legalization and providing you the tools necessary to be an informed voter.