political | 10.30.2018

Where Does Your Governor Stand on Cannabis?

Adrian Daniel Schramm

Staff

It’s almost election time – and cannabis is on the ballot in many states around the country. Where do current U.S. governors stand on marijuana legalization, whether for medical purposes or adult use? While stances often ride party lines - more Democrats are pro-cannabis, or at least more flexible, than Republicans - there are a few surprises, and a few things to keep in mind when heading into the polls this November 6. 

Let’s break it down.

Note: Our ratings are based on what each governor has stated in public regarding their views on cannabis, as well as legislation they have supported/blocked in their state. While this often reflected on the level of legality in the state, that isn't always the case.


Governors on the Front Lines


Bill Walker

Level of Support:
  • StateAlaska
  • PartyIndependent
  • Took Office2014
  • Seat Is Up2018

"Alaskans voted in 2014 to legalize the commercial sale of marijuana. I remain committed to upholding the will of Alaskans on this issue and maintaining our State's sovereign rights to manage our own affairs while protecting federal interests. Today's announcement withdrawing the Cole Memorandum is disappointing. I will continue to work with the U.S. Department of Justice and our Congressional Delegation to prevent federal overreach into Alaska." (Source)

Jerry Brown

Level of Support:
  • StateCalifornia
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

The governor vetoed a measure intended to impose new penalties regarding the use of marijuana on beaches and state parks. It was a provision tucked inside a larger bill designed to prevent people from smoking cigarettes in these areas." If people can't even smoke on a deserted beach, where can they?" Brown said in statement. "There must be some limit to the coercive power of government." (Source)

John Hickenlooper

Level of Support:
  • StateColorado
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

Of Colorado's legalization, which was the first in the United States, Hickenlooper said, "I think we've made real progress. And there might be a way to have a better system come out of this. … I am not as negative as I was. I am cautiously optimistic, like we might actually do this. This is going to be one of the biggest experiments of the 21st century." (Source)

John Bel Edwards

Level of Support:
  • StateLouisiana
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2016
  • Seat Is Up2020

"I personally know too many individuals and really particularly children who are suffering from medical conditions, and traditional medicines are not providing relief. I quite frankly think the state ought not be between the doctor and the parents when it comes to what might be best for those children." (Source)

Steve Bullock

Level of Support:
  • StateMontana
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2013
  • Seat Is Up2020

Advocated for the continued use of medical cannabis, saying "I am concerned about the ability of thousands of patients with serious medical conditions to access a treatment that has been approved by their doctors." (Source)

Chris Sununu

Level of Support:
  • StateNew Hampshire
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2017
  • Seat Is Up2018

"We'll let the legislature go through their process and we'll see where it ends up but I do believe in the decriminalization aspect of marijuana. Obviously not the full legalization. Those are two very different issues." (Source)

Phil Murphy

Level of Support:
  • StateNew Jersey
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2018
  • Seat Is Up2021

From Murphy's 2019 New Jersey Budget Address: "Legalization will allow us to reinvest directly in our communities – especially the urban neighborhoods hardest hit by the misguided War on Drugs – in their economic development, in health care and housing, child care and after-school programs, and other critical areas. These investments will pay dividends far greater than the cost of mass incarceration." (Source)

Kate Brown

Level of Support:
  • StateOregon
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2015
  • Seat Is Up2018

In a statement regarding Attorney General Jeff Sessions' fight against legal cannabis, Kate Brown said, "States are the laboratories of democracy, where progressive policies are developed and implemented for the benefit of their people. Voters in Oregon were clear when they chose for Oregon to legalize the sale of marijuana and the federal government should not stand in the way of the will of Oregonians." (Source)

Gina Raimondo

Level of Support:
  • StateRhode Island
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2015
  • Seat Is Up2018

David Ortiz, a spokesman for Raimando, has stated, "The governor's primary concerns are safety and proper regulation, and she will give strong consideration to legalization legislation that adequately addresses these concerns, whether a bill reaches her desk this year or in the future." (Source)

Phil Scott

Level of Support:
  • StateVermont
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2017
  • Seat Is Up2018

In regard to the legislation to legalize the personal possession and home cultivation of marijuana, Governor Scott said, "It's not a high priority for me, but I did make a commitment that I was supportive of the bill that was put together" (Source)

Ralph Northam

Level of Support:
  • StateVirginia
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2018
  • Seat Is Up2021

"There are a lot of lives that are ruined by making mistakes and being put in jail. That's something (decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses) that I ran on in 2017, and there were actually some folks on both sides of the aisle that were discussing it but it didn't happen. But we'll continue to pursue that as we move forward." (Source)

Jay Inslee

Level of Support:
  • StateWashington
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2013
  • Seat Is Up2020

"It's a shame that he [US Attorney General Jeff Sessions] has a closed mind, and he's much more attentive to his old ideology than to the new facts. The fears that he might have had 30 years ago have not been realized, and we wish he would just open his eyes to the reality of the situation. If he did, I think he would no longer try to fight an old battle that the community and the nation is moving very rapidly forward on." (Source)

Jim Justice

Level of Support:
  • StateWest Virginia
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2017
  • Seat Is Up2020

On enacting SB 386, which granted patients access to medical marijuana in the state of West Virginia, Jim Justice said "With great pleasure, I'm going to sign this into law and I think all of us will feel like we're doing something good for families out there." (Source)


Governors in the Middle


Dan Malloy

Level of Support:
  • StateConnecticut
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2019

"I told him (United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions) to stop messing around with marijuana, because it really isn't important. I have not taken the opportunity to endorse marijuana, but that's very different than spending resources trying to combat marijuana use. And, quite frankly, if you're going to be serious about opioids, you can't be screwing around with marijuana." (Source)

John Carney

Level of Support:
  • StateDelaware
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2017
  • Seat Is Up2020

"I'm not in favor of [the state legalizing and taxing marijuana]. We ought to learn from the experience of other states that are doing it. I don't think we ought to be out on the edge of that curve." (Source)

David Ige

Level of Support:
  • StateHawaii
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2014
  • Seat Is Up2018

When asked when he supports the decriminalization of marijuana, Ige responded, "No." (Source). He did, however, say that, "I support the establishment of dispensaries to ensure that qualified patients can legally and safely access medical marijuana." (Source)

Bruce Rauner

Level of Support:
  • StateIllinois
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2015
  • Seat Is Up2018

"It's a big controversy. There are some Republicans who support it; some Democrats do; some don't. Here's my view. Medical marijuana was approved before I became governor. We're monitoring that to see how it works, and I think there are some appropriate medical uses for that and we're monitoring it. Recreational marijuana, just for personal use, I think is a huge experiment. We don't know." (Source)

Kim Reynolds

Level of Support:
  • StateIowa
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2017
  • Seat Is Up2018

In a recent debate with Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell regarding the use of medical cannabis, Reynolds said, "I would support the process that’s already in place. The legislation that passed put a board in place that would deal with the very issues that you’re talking about, whether we raise the percentage of THC in it or whether we expand the number of illnesses that would qualify for that." (Source)

Larry Hogan

Level of Support:
  • StateMaryland
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2015
  • Seat Is Up2018

Has shown limited support for medical use (HB104), and the growing of hemp by higher education institutions (HB443). He is, however, opposed to expanded, and recreational use.

Rick Snyder

Level of Support:
  • StateMaryland
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

"This new law will help Michiganders of all ages and with varying medical conditions access safe products to relieve their suffering. We can finally implement a solid framework that gives patients a safe source from which to purchase and utilize medical marijuana." (Source)

Mark Dayton

Level of Support:
  • StateMinnesota
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

Has stated, in regards to medical marijuana, "I cannot, and I do not, advocate breaking the law. But as a father, I understand parents who would do anything possible to help their children. If advocates agree to the compromise solution my administration has proposed – which I believe would provide their children with the medication and relief they need as quickly as possible – then something can be accomplished on this issue this session." (Source), but has also said, in regards to recreational use, "Alcohol is plenty dangerous… Why would we want to add another drug to the equation?" (Source)


Brian Sandoval

Level of Support:
  • StateNevada
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

While Sandoval does not personally support legalized cannabis, he did not stand in the way, or block, the will of the voting public who do: "Last November, voters approved Question 2, which legalized recreational use of marijuana. While I did not support it, I respect the will of the voters who did." (Source)

Andrew Cuomo

Level of Support:
  • StateNew York
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

"New Jersey may legalize marijuana. Massachusetts already has. On the other hand, Attorney General Sessions says he's going to end marijuana in every state. So you have the whole confluence of different information. I think we should fund [the Department of Health] to do a study. Let them work with state police and other agencies. Look at the health impact and economic impact." (Source)

John Kasich

Level of Support:
  • StateOhio
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

Kasich has said, in regards to medical marijuana's role in combatting the opioid crisis, "I know it's not recreational marijuana, not recreational use, but I don't see a role for it in this at all... I don't like the whole thing -- medical marijuana. It got passed because somebody was going to have a broader law. (Source)

Tom Wolf

Level of Support:
  • StatePennsylvania
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2015
  • Seat Is Up2018

"I don't think Pennsylvania is ready for it. I think that's important. This is a democracy and you can't move ahead of the electorate... How do you do it? How do you regulate it? Who can buy it? How do you tax it?" (Source)


Governors Falling Short


Doug Ducey

Level of Support:
  • StateArizona
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2015
  • Seat Is Up2018

In regards to the ballot initiative, he said, "I don't know how we make ourselves a stronger state or a better place through this initiative. Almost everything outside of our economy and education that I have to deal with in this state has a common culprit of drug abuse and addiction." (Source) And, when voters rejected it, he stated, "Fortunately, Arizona is a place where common sense can still work. We fought very hard and we won this round." (Source)

Asa Hutchinson

Level of Support:
  • StateArkansas
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2015
  • Seat Is Up2018

"...You're going to have retail shops, you're going to have distribution, you're going to have cultivation, all highly regulated. That's the path we've got to go. I believe it would increase harm. So two paths you can take, and I believe the best one is keep it criminalized, keep it illegal conduct, but let's make the adjustments from lessons that we've learned over the last two decades." (Source)

Rick Scott

Level of Support:
  • StateFlorida
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

Has remained staunchly against recreational use of cannabis, saying, "I have a great deal of empathy for people battling difficult diseases and I understand arguments in favor of this initiative. But, having seen the terrible effects of alcohol and drug abuse first-hand, I cannot endorse sending Florida down this path and I would personally vote against it." (Source)

Nathan Deal

Level of Support:
  • StateGeorgia
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

"Commercially, I am told, that's not a big enough demand base to be able to sustain a growing operation... And the information I've received from the law enforcement component causes me to have more concerns than I did before." (Source)

Butch Otter

Level of Support:
  • StateIdaho
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2007
  • Seat Is Up2018

"I think it's a big mistake. When the medical marijuana effort was being made, especially across the Pacific Northwest, I talked to several governors that initially had been in favor of it, and when it raised its head in Idaho, in talking with them they said, 'Don't do it, it's a big mistake… You're going to create a black market and it'll be in the hands of every schoolkid and it'll be in the hands of every person that wants it. I have said time and time again, not on my watch." (Source)

Eric Holder

Level of Support:
  • StateIndiana
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2017
  • Seat Is Up2020

CBD oil doesn't get you high, and Holcomb says he's heard from many Hoosiers who believe it's helped them with pain. He says he was happy to make it accessible, after a failed attempt to do so last year

But Holcomb also says marijuana is a completely different story. He argues it's frequently been a gateway to deadlier drugs, (Source) and has also said that, "Right now, in the world that we're living in, expanding or legalizing drugs of this nature isn't on my list." (Source)

Matt Bevin

Level of Support:
  • StateKentucky
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2015
  • Seat Is Up2018

Does not support legalization due to the fact that "there are people overdosing" on marijuana in Colorado, and has said that ending prohibition is a "sucker's bet." (Source) He has said, however, that he would consider signing a medical cannabis bill should one make it to his desk. (Source)

Paul LePage

Level of Support:
  • StateMaine
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

LePage has said that he "cannot in good conscience support any scheme in state law to implement expansion of legal marijuana in Maine" upon vetoing legislation to implement the voter-approved legalization effort." (Source) He has also stated that the state's 2016 voter-initiated Marijuana Legalization Act "is not just bad for Maine, it can be deadly. … We do not need to legalize another drug that could lead to more deaths."(Source)

Charlie Baker

Level of Support:
  • StateMassachusetts
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2015
  • Seat Is Up2018

"I don't support this... I worry terribly about what the consequences over time will be." "But look, the people voted this. And I think it's really important that we put a program in place that delivered a workable, safe, productive recreational marijuana market for them here in Massachusetts." (Source)

Phil Bryant

Level of Support:
  • StateMississippi
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2012
  • Seat Is Up2020

In regards to legalization in the state of Mississippi, Bryant has stated, "We're not going to consider it in Mississippi as long as I'm Governor." (Source)

Eric Greitens

Level of Support:
  • StateMissouri
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2017
  • Seat Is Up2020

While Greitens has show limited support for cannabis use for children with epilepsy, he has remained staunchly against marijuana in general, saying, "It is simple, there is no stoned path to prosperity." (Source)

Pete Ricketts

Level of Support:
  • StateNebraska
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2015
  • Seat Is Up2018

"As the use of marijuana has been legalized in some states, including our neighbor Colorado, we have been able to observe the impact the legalization of marijuana has had not only in their state, but as well as our own. Legalization of marijuana for any purpose has proven to be a risky proposition because the controls placed on its use in other states have fallen short. Sheriffs I visit with along the Colorado-Nebraska border tell me that the Colorado law has led to increased criminal activity, placing a greater burden on law enforcement in our state…" (Source)

Susana Martinez

Level of Support:
  • StateNew Mexico
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

Opposes legalization of cannabis: "In New Mexico, as long as I'm governor, I'm not signing that bill." (Source) She also opposes cannabis for medical use: "I would work to repeal the state's medical marijuana law... It is against federal law to distribute marijuana and there are alternative medications that meet the medical needs of patients." (Source)

Roy Cooper

Level of Support:
  • StateNorth Carolina
  • PartyDemocrat
  • Took Office2017
  • Seat Is Up2020

Has said that he doesn't want legalization in North Carolina (Source), but also also expressed interest studying the effects in other states. (Source)

Doug Burgum

Level of Support:
  • StateNorth Dakota
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2016
  • Seat Is Up2020

"...While we're taking a step forward here around legalizing medical marijuana in our state, we also have to take a hard look at ourselves as a society and say what are the real costs of addiction and what can we do to try to prevent the tragedies that often come with addiction." Though Burgum has admitted to personal use. (Source

Mary Fallin

Level of Support:
  • StateOklahoma
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

On the issue of marijuana legalization in the state of Oklahoma, Fallin said, "No, it's not on the table for me. I've been trying to get people to stay off drugs, and don't get high, and as we have seen in Colorado and in other states that have legalized marijuana there have been huge problems." (Source

Henry McMaster

Level of Support:
  • StateSouth Carolina
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2017
  • Seat Is Up2018

"From what I have learned about, and what I know and what I've seen, it's a bad idea to legalize marijuana. It would hurt the people, particularly the young people." (Source)

Dennis Daugaard

Level of Support:
  • StateSouth Dakota
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

Supports (very) limited cannibidiol medical use, saying, "I have great sympathy for people who have seizure disorders. Our own daughter Laura when she was younger had a number of grand mal seizures and I can't tell you how Linda and I were just deathly afraid for her," (Source), but has remained otherwise opposed to all other forms and uses. (Source)

Bill Haslam

Level of Support:
  • StateTennessee
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

"I think we have enough of an issue around substance abuse now. You can debate whether it's a gateway drug and all this. I'm not the expert. But I just don't think it's a helpful step for our society given the struggles we have right now with substance abuse." (Source)

Greg Abbott

Level of Support:
  • StateTexas
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2015
  • Seat Is Up2018

"I remain convinced that Texas should not legalize marijuana nor should Texas open the door for conventional marijuana to be used for medical or medicinal purposes. As governor I will not allow it." (Source)

Gary Herbert

Level of Support:
  • StateUtah
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2009
  • Seat Is Up2020

"It ought to be a controlled substance just like anything else. It ought to be approved by the FDA. It ought to be in fact prescribed by a doctor and administered by a pharmacist. We probably ought not to have self-medication. The physiology of different people would require probably different quantities of the medicine, and I just think that's prudent." (Source)

Scott Walker

Level of Support:
  • StateWisconsin
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

"If I'm at a wedding reception here and somebody has a drink or two, most people wouldn't say they're wasted. Most folks with marijuana wouldn't be sitting around a wedding reception smoking marijuana." "Now there are people who abuse (alcohol), no doubt about it, but I think it's a big jump between someone having a beer and smoking marijuana. (Source)

Matt Mead

Level of Support:
  • StateWyoming
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2011
  • Seat Is Up2018

Mead has maintained that he opposes marijuana legalization in any form. (Source) HB32, which allows patients with epilepsy to obtain "hemp extracts" for treatments in specific cases, was passed during his tenure.


Governors Unknown


Kate Ivey

Level of Support:
  • StateAlabama
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2017
  • Seat Is Up2018

Kate Ivey has not enacted, nor vetoed, any legislation regarding cannabis use in her state. Nor has she made any statements, written any letters, or expressed in any definitive way her stance on the issue.

This could be, in part, due to the very short tenure of her governorship. Cannabis News Update will amend the entry should any new information come to light.

Jeff Colyer

Level of Support:
  • StateKansas
  • PartyRepublican
  • Took Office2018
  • Seat Is Up2018

Jeff Colyer has not enacted, nor vetoed, any legislation regarding cannabis use in his state. Nor has he made any statements, written any letters, or expressed in any definitive way his stance on the issue.

This could be, in part, due to the very short tenure of his governorship. Cannabis News Update will amend the entry should any new information come to light.