Mike Pence’s Firm Stance Against Cannabis: A Threat to the Industry? 

Mike Pence has a long history of anti-cannabis sentiments and has spoken against both medical and recreational use. He has spent time as a member of the House of Representatives, the governor of Indiana, and as the vice president under the Trump administration. In all of these positions he took a strict approach to cannabis policy, opposing all proposals to develop the industry.

Now, he has taken a stand as a 2024 presidential candidate.

A Christian, Conservative, And A Republican…

According to a public statement Pence made at his nomination for vice president, he has an identity rooted in his religious beliefs, political ideology, and party – in that order. His opinion on cannabis is an intersectional issue, entangled in all of these aspects. One example would be his affiliation with The Family Council Action Committee. He is a big supporter of this organization, and his name is placed first on their website as one who opposes cannabis.

The Family Council Action Committee is an organization dedicated to shaping public opinion and getting involved with policies supporting “traditional family values”. This organization has many resources outlining why they don’t support cannabis, including videos urging voters to vote “no” on cannabis legalization. 

Much like the videos from this organization, Pence has made statements about cannabis being a “gateway” drug that leads to addiction and crime. He also has a long history of opposition against marijuana policy reform during his time in the House of Representatives.

A Congress Member Against Cannabis

During his time in Congress he showed a desire to use federal resources to interfere with state medical cannabis programs. He voted against a bill that would prevent funding for federal interference in state cannabis programs 5 years in a row, from 2003 to 2007. He showed persistence and consistency with his opinion on cannabis, which continued when he went on to become governor of Indiana. 

Mike Pence became governor of Indiana in 2013, where he demonstrated his support for many ideals from the war on drugs. This mostly came in the form of statements he made, detailing his desire for greater criminalization of cannabis in Indiana. 

Pence signed legislation that decreased penalties for simple possession of cannabis in 2013, but spoke about this in a negative light, “We need to focus on reducing crime, not reducing penalties.” His justification is that he wanted to send a message to those who intended on selling or using cannabis that the state government would not be lenient. 

He then went on to establish the “Governor’s Task Force on Drug Enforcement, Treatment, and Prevention” in 2015. This task force was meant to target the opioid crisis and to reduce drug trafficking efforts. 

A Vice President’s Sentiments

Mike Pence became vice president in 2017 as a part of the Trump administration, where he supported Trump in his presidency. The Trump administration rescinded the 2013 Cole Memorandum, making it possible for the federal government to intervene in state cannabis operations. 

In addition Pence spoke out against a bill that would have protected banks working with state cannabis operations, claiming that it was not relevant during the pandemic.

Pence Quiet about Psychedelics 

Mike Pence has made his cannabis policy and opinion clear, but what’s not so clear is his opinion on psychedelics. To this date, Pence has not made any publicly available comments on psychedelics specifically. That being said, he has not made any significant impact on law regarding psychedelics, positive or negative. 

Pence as a Candidate

Overall, Mike Pence has made many statements about his opinion on cannabis legalization, all pointing toward his desire for criminalization and increased penalties for cannabis use and sale. He would likely promote federal intervention in legal state markets, and push rhetoric that cannabis is a gateway drug that leads to more overdoses – as he has done in the past. Since his opinion on cannabis is intertwined with his religious and political ideation, it is unlikely he will change his stance with changing popular opinion. 

Author’s description: 

Michael is a cannabis advocate with a background in cannabis education and budtending. During his time at UCLA Cannaclub he had the opportunity to start a career centered around his favorite flower, and his journey continues as a writer for Beard Bros Pharms.

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