Loading
Donate

2016 Senate Scorecard

X

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

  • Mike Rounds (R)

    SOUTH DAKOTA

    NORML Grade: F

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    Marijuana: Do you support efforts to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana? Rounds: No 10/20/2014 (Link)
    They also asked about marijuana legalization and drug testing for those receiving welfare. Rounds responded, "I do not want to see marijuana legalized. I think it is a Pandora's box." 2/18/14 (Link)
    Pioneer: Is it time for marijuana to be legalized, either recreationally or medically? Rounds: “I think that the chemicals found within marijuana … should be due deference given in a medical sense, but I do not think marijuana by itself should be approved for medical purposes because we find right now that there are people coming in and they’re saying, ‘I’ve got a backache,’ and now the doctor is simply pressured to allow them to do so. Marijuana is a controlled substance for a reason. We know that with young people there are significant issues surrounding brain development when it comes to the use of marijuana. No, I don’t think it’s time to make marijuana usable for medical purposes, but I do think the chemistry within it should be refined and the active ingredients should be made available where the Food and Drug Administration says that they can appropriately regulate it and distribute it. So the part that is good for some of these kids, I think it should be made available for them in its refined form, not as a joint.” Pioneer: What about the states that do have it available for recreational use? Should those businesses have access to federally-insured banks? Rounds: “No. Not at this point. I think the decision that they’ve made in those states is a mistake. I think we have a federal law on the books that is pretty clear. Just because this administration has chosen not to enforce the law does not mean that the law is not a valid law. If they want to come to Congress and change the law, that’s a different deal. But I haven’t seen that yet … so far this administration has decided they aren’t going to enforce that law and I think that’s a mistake.” 1/11/2016 (Link)

  • John Thune (R)

    SOUTH DAKOTA

    NORML Grade: F

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    "While I understand that people have strong opinions on both sides of this debate, I do not support legalizing the use of marijuana. Currently, the medical benefits from the use of marijuana are still inconclusive, and I believe that we must be careful not to increase the availability of marijuana and the use of marijuana for nonmedical reasons. However, I support the development of alternative medications that will provide relief to patients without opening the door to substance abuse." 6/13/2014 (Link)
    "We laugh about it and make jokes about where those brownies come from, but I think it's a dangerous path," said Thune on the legalization of marijuana. "They're going to pay a price for it in Colorado, and in fact, I think they already are." 3/6/2015 (Link)

  • Lamar Alexander (R)

    TENNESSEE

    NORML Grade: C

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    S.1333 Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act of 2015

    Comments

    “Sen. Alexander believes that Washington, D.C. should not be telling states what to do about the decriminalization of marijuana,” Alexander spokesman Brian Reisinger said in an email response to questions posed by the Times Free Press. Reisinger said that as for Alexander’s “own views, while there may be some valid medicinal uses for cannabis, he is concerned about the potential abuse and widespread use of drugs for recreational purposes and is carefully watching the de-criminalization process in the states of Colorado and Washington.” 10/24/2014 (Link)

  • Bob Corker (R)

    TENNESSEE

    NORML Grade: D

    Votes

    ?

    No sponsorships or comments

  • Ted Cruz (R)

    TEXAS

    NORML Grade: C

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    “When it comes to a question of legalizing marijuana, I don’t support legalizing marijuana,” he told Hugh Hewitt in April. “If it were on the ballot in the state of Texas, I would vote no. But I also believe that’s a legitimate question for the states to make a determination…I think it is appropriate for the federal government to recognize that the citizens of those states have made that decision, and one of the benefits of it, you know, using Brandeis’ terms of laboratories of democracy, is we can now watch and see what happens in Colorado and Washington State.” 2/4/2016 (Link)

  • John Cornyn (R)

    TEXAS

    NORML Grade: F

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    When asked about Congressional action on the CARERS Act of 2015, "“I don’t think we need to go there,” added Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican and former Texas attorney general and state Supreme Court justice. “This is a more dangerous topic than what a lot of the advocates acknowledge.” 3/24/2015 (Link)
    "Cornyn said he worries that decriminalization, medical usage and removing marijuana laws from federal enforcement is a slippery slope “where a similar attitude would be embraced with regards to other illegal drugs and dangerous substances.”" 7/11/2014 (Link)

  • Orrin Hatch (R)

    UTAH

    NORML Grade: C

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    *S.1333 Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act of 2015
    *S. 3077 Marijuana Effective Drug Studies (MEDS) Act of 2016
    *S. 2557 SUCCESS Act

    Comments

    "Throughout my entire Senate career, I’ve taken a strong stand against illegal drugs. The proliferation of cocaine, meth and other addictive, mind-altering substances has had a devastating effect on homes and communities. CBD is not like any of those substances. It is not addictive. To the contrary, it has shown promise in treating addiction. Rather than harming families, it can help make their lives better. I continue to oppose marijuana and efforts to legalize its use. I remain unconvinced by claims that it is safe and that the side effects it causes are no big deal. Stories of children being rushed to the hospital for accidentally consuming marijuana edibles belie the notion that marijuana is a safe drug. In fact, I am currently working on legislation to help protect children from the dangers of edible marijuana products. But I also believe that when a drug is safe and can improve people’s lives, Congress should not stand in the way. That CBD is derived from the cannabis plant does not mean we should be scared to have anything to do with it. Legalizing CBD is a compassionate, common-sense move that will bring relief to thousands of suffering children. I am glad to stand with my colleagues in supporting the Charlotte’s Web Act and look forward to helping it move through Congress and to the president’s desk." 6/28/2015 (Link)

  • Mike Lee (R)

    UTAH

    NORML Grade: C

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    S. 1333: Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act of 2015

    Comments

    "To illustrate the need for changes in drug sentencing, Lee highlighted the case of his constituent, Weldon Angelos, the 36-year-old father of three from Utah, who was sentenced to 55 years in a federal prison after being arrested for selling marijuana three times to a police informant. When Lee was a federal prosecutor in Salt Lake City in 2004, one of Lee’s colleagues prosecuted Angelos. But Lee has now called on President Obama to grant him clemency. On Tuesday, the former federal judge who sentenced him, Paul G. Cassell, also called on President Obama to grant him clemency." 2/10 (Link)

  • Bernie Sanders (I)

    VERMONT

    NORML Grade: A+

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

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

    Comments

    "Sanders said he supported medical marijuana use, and admitted to smoking pot when he was younger. He expressed some concerns about legalizing pot for recreational users, but is on board with medical uses. The war on drugs, Sanders told Time, has put a lot of non-violent offenders in jail, while not focusing enough resources on the epidemic of heroin use and other such dangerous drugs. I have real concerns about implications of the war on drugs. We have been engaged in it for decades now with a huge cost and the destruction of a whole lot of lives of people who were never involved in any violent activities." 3/5/2014 (Link)
    ""We can argue about the science and the pluses and minuses about marijuana, but everybody knows marijuana is not a killer drug like heroin," Sanders said, to cheers from supporters. It should not be a federal crime." 4/4/2016 (Link)
    “When I was mayor of the town of Burlington [Vermont],” the Senator told Katie Couric last year, “which has a large university, and one or two of the kids were smoking marijuana, we suspect, we didn't arrest too many people for marijuana.” But he himself doesn’t partake. In the same interview he joked about being "the only person who didn't get high in the Sixties" before clarifying: "I smoked marijuana twice, and it didn't quite work for me. It's not my thing, but it is the thing of a whole lot of people.” (Link)

  • Patrick Leahy (D)

    VERMONT

    NORML Grade: B

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    *S. 3269 Cannabidiol Research Expansion Act

    Comments

    “I have a real concern for states' rights... I am concerned that just because marijuana is illegal under federal law, that we're just going to ignore what states do and send law enforcement in there to enforce the federal law... I hate to see a great deal of law enforcement resources spent on things like the possession and use of marijuana when we have murder cases, armed robbery cases, things like that that go unsolved... It was also my feeling as a prosecutor. I found more important things to do... We have spent...hundreds of billions of dollars on this so called 'war on drugs.' Well, we've lost.” 1/18/2013 (Link)

  • Mark Warner (D)

    VIRGINIA

    NORML Grade: B

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    S. 1333: Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act of 2015
    S. 134: Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015

    Comments

    When contacted by NORML a staffer responded, "Senator Warner supports the use of medical marijuana when used appropriately, and thinks that Virginia should “wait until there is more data from Colorado and Washington state” in terms of legalizing marijuana for non-medical use."

  • Tim Kaine (D)

    VIRGINIA

    NORML Grade: C+

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    "I've never been a legalization fan. I just haven't been. Just for a whole series of both health- and sort of crime-related reasons, I think that would not be a good idea."

    "I have generally been for reexamination of sentences because I think often, for sentences for marijuana and marijuana usage, I think some sentences are too strict," he said. "These are often, if they're nonviolent crimes, I think it could be handled in a different way on a sentencing standpoint. But in terms of the decriminalization of marijuana, I've never been a proponent."

    He "support[s]drastic changes in sentencing laws" but "wouldn't vote for a law at the federal or state level that would decriminalize marijuana."

    "I actually kind of like this notion of the states as labs and they can experiment [with legalizing marijuana]and we can see what happens," he said.

    Read more (Link)

  • Patty Murray (D)

    WASHINGTON

    NORML Grade: B+

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    *S 1726 Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015
    *S. 2504: Marijuana Advertising in Legal States (MAILS) Act

    Comments

    "While I have personal concerns about recreational marijuana use, I have long held that the voters of Washington state should have the right to pass initiatives and match our state's policies with their priorities. In a time of constrained budgets, it makes sense to allow states to make hard choices and allocate law enforcement resources as they see fit. I understand and share some of the concerns expressed about our nation's drug policy, and its effects on civil liberties, privacy, limited budgets, and courts and prisons. These issues certainly should remain a part of the nation's ongoing drug policy debate, and I always consider these views when the Senate addresses drug issues." 6/8/2013 (Link)

  • Maria Cantwell (D)

    WASHINGTON

    NORML Grade: C

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    "Washington state's U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell wrote to the Department of Justice Tuesday, asking for answers on Washington state’s legalization of recreational marijuana. The Democratic senators, along with five Democratic members of the House representing Washington state, urged U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to avoid preempting the state’s new marijuana law. They also asked him not to prosecute anyone in the state who is acting in compliance with Washington’s marijuana law." 7/16/2013 (Link)

  • Shelley Moore Capito (R)

    WEST VIRGINIA

    NORML Grade: C

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    Shelley Capito voted Nay on H Amdt 1086 in 2014 to prohibit states from penalizing a bank for providing financial services to marijuana businesses.

  • Joe Manchin (D)

    WEST VIRGINIA

    NORML Grade: D

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    Senator Joe Manchin said it should be up to those who treat patients to make that decision. "I would lean more to listen to the doctors - the professionals who are responsible for our health." 11/15/2012 (Link)

  • Tammy Baldwin (D)

    WISCONSIN

    NORML Grade: B+

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    S. 683: CARERS
    S. 1333: Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act of 2015
    S. 134: Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2015

    Comments

    "Baldwin, a longtime supporter of medical cannabis dating back to her days in the State Assembly and before will be facing the winner of the GOP primary. Her position has been consistently and strongly supportive and she has regularly cosponsored federal medical cannabis legislation in Congress." 8/13/2012 (Link)

  • Ron Johnson (R)

    WISCONSIN

    NORML Grade: C

    Votes

    ?

    Cosponsor

    S. 1333: Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act of 2015

    Comments

    "What we can do is we can hold hearings to find out how it's all working, to highlight the issues, highlight the problem, try and define the problems. So I think that's what we should really do." "I have no comment on that right now. That's a relatively complex issue, dealing with state law and federal law and we've got these experiments — we're not enforcing federal law," said Johnson. "I guess right now I'm just sitting here watching the states' experiment and seeing how that happens. If anything I'd want to use the committee to hold a hearing, see how it's working." Johnson said he is also personally against the recreational use of marijuana but believes it’s an issue that should be determined by states. However, he did not indicate whether the same determination should be granted to the District. “I can’t support it myself because I think it sets a really bad example for young children,” Johnson said. “But states are doing that. Let the voters decide … Again, I like local control of those issues and then what we can do here in Congress is hold hearings, find out, how’s it working? What kind of problems are there?” 11/21/2014 (Link)

  • Mike Enzi (R)

    WYOMING

    NORML Grade: D

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    "Republican Sen. Mike Enzi does not support the bill because he has strong reservations about marijuana for medical use, said his spokesman Max D’Onofrio." “There is strong evidence that marijuana does act as a gateway drug, and Sen. Enzi believes we must think about what kind of message these laws would send to our young people,” D’Onofrio said in an email. “There is also no clear science-based evidence that medical marijuana is more effective than other regulated medicines. Approval of medical marijuana use at this time is premature until the research is more conclusive about benefits and risk.”

  • John Barrasso (R)

    WYOMING

    NORML Grade: F

    Votes

    ?

    Comments

    "DOBBS: As you know, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying while in Mexico City, saying that our demand for drugs is what motivates the drug gangs. Is that not somewhat similar to saying that money in banks motivates bank robbers? Sentaor BARRASSO: Well, Lou, I really do not ever approve of this let's blame Americans first approach. I just don't think that's the way to go. These are narcotic traffickers. It is a network of criminals, and we need to do everything we can to disrupt the entire network. If they weren't moving drugs, the president was making a joke of legalizing marijuana, and I have to tell you, I think that we should not go that way under those circumstances. The same criminal networks would just do another form of crime to try to make profits." 3/26/2009 (Link)
    "While there are conflicting studies regarding the medical use of marijuana, the risks to individuals and the larger community far outweigh the potential benefits it may or may not provide," he said. "There are better legal and proven ways to safely address pain." 3/31/2015 (Link)

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.