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2016 Senate Scorecard

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Senate Bills

Daines/Merkley Veterans Equal Access Amendment

Permits physicians affiliated with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to recommend cannabis therapy to veterans in states that allow for its therapeutic use. More info

Mikulski Amendment Protecting State Medical Marijuana Laws

Limits the Justice Department’s ability to take criminal action against state-licensed operations that are acting in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states. More info

Merkley Marijuana Banking Amendment

Prohibits the US Treasury Department from using federal funds to take punitive actions against banks that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses that are operating legally under state laws. More info

'N/A' means that the Senator did not have the opportunity to vote on this amendment.

Senators

  • Brian Schatz (D)

    HAWAII

    NORML Grade: B+

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    S. 683: CARERS
    S. 1726: Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015
    S. 134: Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015

    Comments

    "States are the laboratory of democracy, and democracy is occurring when it comes to this issue," Schatz said. "I don’t think Hawaii is ready for it; I don’t think we’re ready for nationwide legislation."

  • Mazie Hirono (D)

    HAWAII

    NORML Grade: B

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    S. 683: CARERS
    S. 134: Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015
  • Mike Crapo (R)

    IDAHO

    NORML Grade: D

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    "I have strong concerns about the ramifications of legislation that would legalize illegal drugs or loosen regulation with regard to them. Because many illegal drugs are highly and quickly addictive, the societal and economic costs of such policy decisions would be immense. Rest assured, I will continue to monitor and evaluate the policy discussions centered on states’ legalization of marijuana and its implications for federal law."

  • Jim Risch (R)

    IDAHO

    NORML Grade: F

    Votes

    ?

    No sponsorships or comments

  • Dick Durbin (D)

    ILLINOIS

    NORML Grade: B

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    "No, I tell ya, I think we ought to … let’s approach it this way: let’s watch how the states deal with medical marijuana before we try to establish a national policy." Rather, Durbin says the U.S. needs to loosen up on sentences for drug crimes. He says too much money is spent to imprison drug offenders who aren't dangerous. While Durbin said he supports the use of medical marijuana, he noted that he doesn’t support the decriminalization of the drug, expressing concern about it being a “gateway” to more serious drugs. He said possession of marijuana, however, should not be treated in a criminal fashion, because that could lead to prisons being filled with non-violent offenders.

  • Mark Kirk (R)

    ILLINOIS

    NORML Grade: F

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    Kirk did not address medical marijuana specifically, but said he favored full restrictions on the drug. Kirk said his biggest concern was young people and academics, referencing “burnouts," who he said were generally "lower performing in their careers and their lives." Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) introduced a bill that would dramatically increase prison sentences for marijuana trafficking offenses if the pot in question had THC levels over 15%. Warning Monday that "kush super-marijuana" had invaded the Chicago suburbs, Kirk is calling for prison sentences of up to 25 years for trafficking even small quantities of the kind bud.

  • Dan Coats (R)

    INDIANA

    NORML Grade: D

    Votes

    ?

    No sponsorships or comments

  • Joe Donnelly (D)

    INDIANA

    NORML Grade: D

    Votes

    ?

    No sponsorships or comments

  • Joni Ernst (R)

    IOWA

    NORML Grade: D

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    While the Senator says she has supported the use of cannabis oil in the past, she says she is against the opening of those dispensaries, and the general use of medical marijuana. "What I would like to see happen first is to see concrete medical evidence that this can be appropriately controlled and utilized in a very very controlled manner," says Ernst. "I would like to see additional research done on medical marijuana before we throw it at Iowans."

  • Chuck Grassley (R)

    IOWA

    NORML Grade: D-

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    S. 3269 Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act

    Comments

    "I oppose moving marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug, based on the current science on the risks and benefits," Grassley wrote in a statement released by his staff. "Recent studies suggest marijuana use by young people can cause long-term and possibly permanent damage to brain development." However, he said, "for children suffering from severe epileptic seizures, the anecdotal evidence says components of the marijuana plant might help. I want to help those children. The key is aggressive medical research." "Marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug," said Grassley, who turns 80 next week. "It's illegal under international law as well, and the treaty requires us to restrict its use to scientific and medical uses. These [legalization] laws flatly contradict our federal law. Some experts fear a Big Marijuana, a Starbucks of marijuana," he lamented.

  • Pat Roberts (R)

    KANSAS

    NORML Grade: C

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    “That's not a federal issue," Roberts said. "That's a state issue. If you want to get a Rocky Mountain high, go west. That should be for the Kansas legislature and the governor to decide, not federally.” "You know, we've had a federal policy in this country since the Nixon administration that doesn't seem to be working, he said. "We've spent over $1 trillion on it. With that said, as the senator has mentioned, we do have states that have started to work with different policies as it relates to legalization. I think it would be prudent for us to take a step back and watch what happens in those states before we determine how we want to change federal policy."

  • Jerry Moran (R)

    KANSAS

    NORML Grade: D

    Votes

    ?

    No sponsorships or comments

  • Rand Paul (R)

    KENTUCKY

    NORML Grade: B+

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    *SB 683 - CARERS
    *S 134 Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015
    *S 1726 Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015

    Comments

    "he was more focused on decriminalizing pot so that people wouldn't do hard prison time for drug offenses" "You said you're for states' rights. Do you support, if you were President Paul, do you support allowing Colorado to go forward with what it has, or would you use federal powers against the [retail marijuana] system that we have?" Paul: "Yeah, I wouldn't interfere from the federal level." (Link)

  • Mitch McConnell (R)

    KENTUCKY

    NORML Grade: F

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    *S 134 Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015

    Comments

    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday that he is firmly "against legalizing marijuana," putting him at odds with his Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. Although McConnell noted that marijuana is "not in the same category as heroin," he cautioned during an interview with a Kentucky radio station that legalizing the drug could "completely transform your society in a way that I think certainly most Kentuckians would not agree with." “I don’t think an answer to this, honestly, is to go in a direction of legalizing any of these currently illegal drugs," McConnell said, according to a report in Roll Call. "This whole movement in various parts of the country is a big mistake."

  • Bill Cassidy (R)

    LOUISIANA

    NORML Grade: B+

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    "There are specific uses of medical marijuana recognized, such as a treatment for chemotherapy induced nausea. There are drugs which approximate marijuana, but may not be as effective in certain people. Dr. Cassidy is supportive when used for a defined medical purpose and prescribed by the patient's doctor," said Cassidy spokesperson John Cummins.

  • David Vitter (R)

    LOUISIANA

    NORML Grade: F

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    "Senator David Vitter wrote to Ms. Fournier that he is not in favor of ending the federal prohibition on marijuana."

  • Susan Collins (R)

    MAINE

    NORML Grade: B-

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    “From a federal perspective, if there were a bill in the Senate to legalize marijuana, I would vote against it,” Collins said. That decision, she said, is based on extensive conversations she has had with medical professionals, law enforcement and others about what they are seeing in Maine in terms of substance abuse and a growing body of science that suggests marijuana use by teens can have a damaging impact on brain development. “When we legalize a controlled substance, we send a message that there is no harm and that, based on all the conversations I’ve had with medical personnel and others, is just not the case,” Collins said.

  • Angus King (I)

    MAINE

    NORML Grade: C

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    S. 683 CARERS Act of 2015
  • Barbara Mikulski (D)

    MARYLAND

    NORML Grade: B+

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    S. 683 CARERS Act of 2015
    S. 1726 Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2016

    Amendments

    Protecting State's Rights - Medical Marijuana
  • Ben Cardin (D)

    MARYLAND

    NORML Grade: C

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    Speaking on the legalized sale of marijuana in both Colorado and Washington, Cardin said he believes Congress and the federal government as a whole are taking a “wait-and-see” approach. “I think you’re seeing federalism played out,” he said. “Law enforcement is a state and local issue; it’s not generally a national issue.” Cardin said he doesn’t believe national marijuana decriminalization or legalization had any support at this time, but his Senate colleagues are monitoring how the individual state systems were panning out in the states that had passed referendums. “We want to see whether the claims of concern or positive results pan out,” he said. “To me, that’s how federalism operates, the states pilot different programs and if they work, we adopt national policy.” Cardin likened the issue to drunken-driving laws of the past, which varied in different states until a national effort created the uniform, nationwide 0.08 blood alcohol concentration limit.

This information is continually being updated. If you have an additional public comment that we do not have record of or any additional information please email politics@norml.org.