Obama, Romney or Johnson? Medical Marijuana Industry Faces Difficult Decision in Nov. Election

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Campaign season is in full swing, with the three main presidential candidates giving daily speeches across the country and TV networks airing a seemingly endless loop of attack ads.

But with just two months left until the election, many medical marijuana professionals are still unsure which name to check in the ballot box. And the decision won’t get any easier in the days leading up to Nov 6.

Here’s the problem: The only candidate who is certain to back the medical marijuana industry – Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson – stands very little chance of actually winning come November. Recent polls indicate that just 1% to 5% of likely voters will cast their ballots for Johnson as president. That could change, but the odds are extraordinarily slim that Johnson will win – meaning a vote for the Libertarian candidate could end up being more symbolic than anything.

That leaves Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney. Here, the industry faces another problem: Democrats are traditionally the party of choice for medical marijuana supporters, but many MMJ professionals are livid at Obama for the widespread crackdown on cannabis businesses under his watch. They feel betrayed by the president and cringe at the thought of backing him in the election. The future of the industry would be very murky if Obama remains in charge, as his policies towards MMJ have been vague and uneven.

However, the alternative could be far worse. Romney has steered clear of talking specifics when addressing medical marijuana, but he is clearly against the legalization of MMJ in general. He could choose to continue the crackdown but – like Obama – at least let some MMJ operations continue to exist. Or he could try to dismantle the industry entirely.

So the question becomes: Which is the lesser of two evils?

The industry is split on the issue. The United States Medical Marijuana Chamber of Commerce officially endorsed Obama this week, but the organization itself is not very well known in the industry and it’s unclear just how much influence it has. The National Cannabis Industry Association and other MMJ advocacy groups have not recommended a candidate yet to their members, and it’s unclear if they plan to do so (NCIA says it “is not endorsing any candidates at this time”).

Of course, the other option is to refrain from voting entirely. Some professionals have indicated that they’ll take this route, saying it serves as a way to punish Obama without directly supporting Romney. This strategy, however, won’t really accomplish much for the industry.

The only thing that’s crystal clear right now? Medical marijuana supporters face some tough decisions in the weeks ahead.

Image credit: Kristin_a via flickr