GOP presidential contenders debate marijuana

For perhaps the first time ever, marijuana legalization was a topic in a primetime presidential debate.

On Wednesday night, several of the 11 Republican candidates for the party’s presidential nomination weighed in on Colorado’s cannabis laws – without mentioning that three other states and the District of Columbia have also legalized recreational marijuana.

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush sparred over the topic but said they would continue to allow states to chart their own courses on cannabis reform without interfering.

“What goes on in Colorado, as far as I’m concerned, that should be a state decision,” Bush said during the debate, which was held in California.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – a vocal opponent of cannabis legalization – maintained his position that federal prohibition needs to be enforced when it comes to recreational marijuana.

“The war on drugs has been a failure… that doesn’t mean we should be legalizing gateway drugs,” Christie said.

Ex-Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina said that states’ rights should be respected, but added that she’s concerned about the ongoing problem of drug addiction.

Cannabis could be a topic again in the next GOP debate, given that it’s slated to be held in Boulder, Colorado, on Oct. 28.