U.S Senate Race in Arizona: Where Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally Stand on Marijuana Legalization

Here’s a look at how the candidates for U.S. Senate in Arizona stack up on the cannabis issue.

Midterm elections are just around the corner. In Arizona, United States Representatives Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ09) and Martha McSally (R-AZ02) have left the House to participate in the race to replace Jeff Flake in the U.S. Senate. No matter which wins, the election will result in the first woman to represent Arizona in the Senate.

Along with the House of Representatives, the Senate plays an instrumental role in the legislative process. The makeup of the 116th Congress, beginning next January, is expected to make important decisions that will influence the future of marijuana legalization and federal cannabis policy in general.

While neither Sinema nor McSally are vocal on their attitudes around cannabis, their voting records reveal a stark difference between where they stand on legalization.

Kyrsten Sinema (D)

  • Recreational Marijuana Legalization: Has not said publicly, but has supported legislation that protects state-legal recreational marijuana
  • Medical Marijuana Legalization: Has not said publicly, but has supported legislation that protects state-legal medical marijuana and gives access to veterans

While Democrat Rep. Kyrsten Sinema has been quiet on the topic of marijuana legalization, her voting record throughout her term indicates support for cannabis law reform.

While in Congress, Sinema has repeatedly voted in favor of marijuana legislation. In 2015, she supported a pair of bills that shield state-legal medical and recreational marijuana operations from federal interference.

Earlier this year, Sinema and 58 other House members sent a letter to Chairman John Culberson and Ranking Member Jose Serrano of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, urging them to include a provision in the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget that protects the legal marijuana industry across the country from a crackdown by the federal government.

Additionally, twice Sinema has voted in favor of the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, which calls for increased access to medical cannabis for veterans.

She also signed on as a co-sponsor of the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act of 2015, which would allow banks to serve marijuana-related businesses without fear of penalties from the federal government.

Sinema has earned a B grade from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) for supporting states’ rights to legalize marijuana without interference and supporting greater access for veterans.

arizona senate race

Martha McSally (R)

  • Recreational Marijuana Legalization: Has opposed legislation that protects state-legal recreational marijuana operations
  • Medical Marijuana Legalization: Has voted to expand medical cannabis use for veterans, but opposed all other legislation

Republican Rep. Martha McSally has yet to publicly say that she is opposed to cannabis legalization, but her voting record indicates she is against loosening cannabis laws.

During her term, McSally voted against various proposals to protect state adult use and medical marijuana programs. In 2015, she opposed the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, which shields states with medical marijuana programs from federal interference. She also voted against the McClintock-Polis Amendment, a provision that would prohibit the Department of Justice from interfering with state-legal marijuana operations.

While in Congress, McSally has voted against all marijuana legislation, except for one measure: In 2016, she voted in favor of the Veterans Equal Access Amendment, which would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend cannabis and discuss its benefits with veterans without being punished.

Describing McSally as the “typical law-n-order conservative,” the Arizona chapter of NORML gave her a C on the organization’s congressional report card. The organization also noted that McSally’s office is one of four congressional or senate offices that refused to meet with their AZ delegation during the national NORML conference in July.
More on Cannabis in the 2018 Midterms

Learn even more about marijuana in the 2018 midterms, including where candidates running for office stand on legalization, through our Election 2018 page.

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