Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT)

In Short

Sen. Dodd has publicly promised to end the federal raids on state medical marijuana programs and has said he would decriminalize marijuana. He also voted against an amendment in the U.S. Senate that was intended to undermine state medical marijuana laws.

What Sen. Dodd Has Done:

On April 19, 2007, Sen. Dodd voted against the Coburn amendment, which, if enacted, could put medical marijuana patients and caregivers at even greater risk than they already face and could be used by opponents to attempt to shut down state medical marijuana programs across the country.

What Sen. Dodd Has Said:

Sen. Dodd was approached twice on May 12, 2007, by GSMM staff and volunteers. At a meet-and-greet in Milford, New Hampshire, we asked if he would end the federal raids on state medical marijuana patients. He responded by saying that he did not want to ban state medical marijuana programs and that he would have to look into it.

Later that day, in Merrimack, New Hampshire, we asked, “You would stop the raids on state medical marijuana programs?” He replied that he would. He added: “Look, we just had a vote on it the other day, in the committee when we dealt with the FDA legislation. We lost the vote here, but there was a senator who brought it up and wanted to ban the use of this altogether. And we pointed out here, and again, states that are doing this, I presume are doing it thoughtfully, and going through a process recognizing this has been — I don’t know enough about the science of this, but I’m satisfied enough that it can be a source of significant pain relief for people and therefore under medication, a doctor’s support, I don’t have the difficulty with that at all.” GSMM staff then asked a follow-up question: “So you would end the federal raids on state programs?” Dodd responded, “Well, if that’s what goes on, then yeah, I would. I want to leave states to decide what the right thing is to do on this.”

On September 12, during an appearance on Slate Magazine’s Political Mashup, Sen. Dodd was asked by comedian Bill Maher, “Sen. Dodd, between illnesses, accidents, homicides, and suicides, it’s been estimated that America suffers roughly 100,000 alcohol-related deaths per year. Marijuana kills virtually no one, and yet, it is such a third rail in American politics to suggest we stop persecuting the people who wish to use this more benign but no less mood-altering and no more of a gateway drug. Can you give me a good reason why, in a free and fair society, marijuana should be illegal?”

Sen. Dodd responded, “Well, Bill, I’ve taken the position, certainly with medical use of marijuana, that it ought to be allowed. And many states — I think 12 or 13 states — allow that today. In fact, we just had a huge debate in the committee in which I serve dealing with the issue. And I’ve strongly advocated that these states not be biased or prejudiced because they allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. And again, the overall … general [idea] of allowing the decriminalization, I strongly advocate as well … So I would decriminalize or certainly advocate as president the decriminalization of statutes that would incarcerate or severely penalize people for using marijuana.”

Sen. Chris Dodd discusses his position on medical marijuana, after a question from GSMM campaign manager Stuart Cooper.

When Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) appeared on New Hampshire Public Radio’s call-in show “The Exchange” on October 19, GSMM staff asked him: “Senator, there is a group of scientists at the University of Massachusetts that wants to do clinical research on marijuana’s medical value for patients with chronic illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, MS, and this research would allow for FDA trials to finally be conducted on medical marijuana. The DEA is blocking this project, even though a judge said it should go ahead, and it has the support of Senators Kennedy and Kerry. I know you support allowing medical marijuana and marijuana decriminalization, but as president, will you also end DEA obstructionism and let well-designed medical marijuana research go forward?”

Sen. Dodd answered, “Great question. Absolutely! I think you know more about this than I do obviously, but we had a vote recently in our Health and Education committee specifically on this subject matter. I think there are 11 or 12 states that have already allowed it and I thought it was the FDA that was prepared to make judgments about those conditions. And so you want to go through the proper process — and you’ve hit the note right on the head — you ought to be safe and make sure things are secure for people. But I believe very strongly that if this relieves people of the pain and suffering for a number of illnesses, and so forth, that the medical usage of this ought to be permitted. And as president, I would do what I could to see that that was tolerable for people. Great question!”

During an October 20 campaign stop at Chez Vachon restaurant in Manchester, GSMM volunteer and seriously ill patient Linda Macia asked Sen. Dodd: “I want to talk to you for a moment. My name is Linda Macia, and I’m seriously ill. I’m allergic or intolerant to all conventional pain medication. Something that has worked for me has been medical marijuana. I want to know, if you’re president, will you stop the raids on the sick and dying?

Sen. Dodd answered, “Oh, yes, I sure will!”

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