Last updated on: 11/13/2023 | Author:

Should Recreational Marijuana Be Legal?

Recreational marijuana, also known as adult-use marijuana, was first legalized in Colorado and Washington in 2012. Marijuana legalization refers to the practice of allowing and regulating the production, distribution, sale, and possession of cannabis so that marijuana use within the established rules is no longer a crime. There are different models of legalization, including allowing people to grow their own marijuana, nonprofit co-ops, and for-profit commercialization with retail sales. Recreational marijuana is legal in 23 states and Washington, D.C., but remains illegal at the federal level and in 27 states. For more on recreational marijuana, explore the ProCon debate.

PRO (yes)


Vivek Ramaswamy:

“Vivek is in favor of federal legalization of marijuana. The current state-level ‘legalization’ farce contributes to the culture of lawbreaking. It’s literally against the law. For us to pretend otherwise only undermines the rule of law in this country.”

Editors’ Note: The above is a statement from Ramaswamy’s campaign.


Ben Adlin, “GOP Candidate Ramaswamy Supports Federal Marijuana Legalization and Allowing Veterans to Use Psychedelics,”, Aug. 15, 2023

CON (no)


Ron DeSantis:

“Yeah, I would not legalize. I think what’s happened is this stuff is very potent now. I think it’s a real, real problem and I think it’s a lot different than stuff that people were using 30 or 40 years ago. And I think when kids get on that, I think it causes a lot of problems. And then, of course, you know, they can throw fentanyl in any of this stuff now.”


Benjamin M. Adams, “Ron DeSantis Confirms He Would Not Legalize Adult Use If Elected President, Warns of Fentanyl-Laced Pot,”, Aug. 30, 2023

Not Clear or Not Found

Joe Biden:

“I think states should be able to make a judgment to legalize [recreational] marijuana, I think that’s okay. But let me tell you, the truth of the matter is there’s not nearly been enough evidence acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug. It’s a debate. Before I legalize it nationally, I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”

Editors’ Note: Biden is in favor of decriminalization and pardoned those with simple possession federal marijuana convictions.


Rebecca Falconer, “Biden: There’s No Proof Marijuana Isn’t a Gateway Drug,”, Nov. 17, 2019

Doug Burgum:

No position as of Sep. 1, 2023

Editors’ Note: ProCon has not found a statement regarding marijuana legalization from Burgum, but he has signed legislation decriminalizing low-level marijuana possession in North Dakota and has pardoned some convicted of marijuana crimes.


Source for Editors’ Note: Kyle Jaeger, “Where Presidential Candidate Doug Burgum Stands on Marijuana,”, July 4, 2023

Chris Christie:

“States have the right to do what they want to do on this.”

Editors’ Note: Christie previously stated that he would override state laws that legalize marijuana: “If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it until January 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana as president of the United States.”


Kyle Jaeger, “Chris Christie Finally Recognizes Marijuana Legalization As States’ Rights Issue,”, Oct. 22, 2018
Source for Editors’s Note: Tom Davis, “Watch: Christie: ‘If You’re Getting High In Colorado, Enjoy It…,'”, July 30, 2015

Nikki Haley:

“I think these types of decisions are best decided at the state level. It’s where people can show the power of their voice. Some states will want to see it, and that allows them the right to do that. Some don’t want to see it, and that allows them that right. I always, especially as a governor, believe that the freedoms of people to decide what it is they want in their state are really important. We need to stay true to that.”


Kyle Jaeger, “Republican Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley Says Marijuana Legalization Is ‘Best Decided’ at the State Level,”, May 29, 2023

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.:

“I will decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. Current situation with contradictory state + federal laws is absurd. States should be able to decide without federal interference.”

Editors’ Note: Decriminalization removes criminal penalties but does not legalize marijuana.


Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.,, June 25, 2023

Donald Trump:

“I mean, you see the same studies. It’s [marijuana] not helping people. I mean, studies are saying that it does damage. It does significant damage—and yet, from a voting standpoint, it’s a pretty popular thing. Canada has gone all that way [with legalization], and other countries have gone all that way. Some countries won’t do it. But I am going to take a look at some final results. But indications are that is not exactly helpful.”


Kyle Jaeger, “Trump Admits Marijuana Is a ‘Pretty Popular Thing’ Even as He Argues It ‘Does Damage,’”, May 1, 2023