Former Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) has entered the race to become the 2024 Republican presidential nominee. So what does his record on drug policy look like?
Hurd, who also previously worked as a CIA agent, has opposed nearly all marijuana reform proposals that he had an opportunity to vote on during his time in Congress. That includes incremental measures like protecting banks that work with state-legal cannabis businesses, as well as comprehensive legislation to federally legalize marijuana.
While he has rarely publicly commented on the cannabis issue—choosing instead to focus on efforts to combat international drug trafficking—his voting record paints a clear and consistent picture of a lawmaker who backs the status quo of prohibition.
Hurd’s competitors for the GOP nomination include former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) and South Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R).
Hurd suspended his presidential campaign on October 9, 2023.
Here’s where Republican presidential candidate Will Hurd stands on marijuana:
Legislation And Policy Actions
The congressman has positioned himself as a lawmaker who was willing to reach across the aisle on various issues, but he voted against a number of bipartisan cannabis reform proposals during his time in office.
For example, he was among the minority voting “no” on a comprehensive House-passed marijuana legalization bill in 2020. The prior year, he also voted against the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act to protect financial institutions from being penalized by federal regulators for working with state-legal cannabis businesses.
The only time he appears to have supported a cannabis proposal was in 2015, when he voted in favor of a proposal to protect state CBD laws.
In 2019, Hurd sponsored a bill that would have directed the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to analyze and produce a report that examines drug trafficking activities in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. He was able to successfully get that legislation adopted as an amendment to the House version of the Intelligence Authorization Act that same year.
Drug cartels and human smugglers are making the border crisis worse and putting innocent lives at risk. Understanding and disabling their networks must be a national intelligence priority. I thank my colleagues for supporting my bipartisan amendment last night to do just that. pic.twitter.com/BpvfFAP8DW
— Will Hurd (@WillHurd) July 17, 2019
On The Campaign Trail
It doesn’t appear that Hurd has discussed marijuana policy issues since announcing his candidacy, but he has talked about his intentions to address international drug trafficking.
“My administration will make stopping and dismantling drug trafficking organizations a national intelligence priority. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are killed by fentanyl,” he said in July. “I’ll ensure we use the entire intelligence community in conjunction with our partners to shut down their criminal enterprise.”
My administration will make stopping and dismantling drug trafficking organizations a national intelligence priority. Hundreds of thousands of Americans are killed by fentanyl. I'll ensure we use the entire intelligence community in conjunction with our partners to shut down…
— Will Hurd (@WillHurd) July 5, 2023
In a blog post in July, the candidate said that he dreams of “an America where are cities are the envy of the world because they are not plagued by gun violence, increasing crime, growing drug problems, homelessness, or income inequality.”
“We need to tackle the drug problem that is ravaging our communities, and we need to ensure that our economy works for everyone, not just those at the top,” he said.
“We need a forward-looking leader who is willing to tackle the most pressing issues facing our nation like: Safety in our cities and communities amid the drug addiction crisis and rising crime,” his campaign site also says.
Another blog post that was published shortly before he announced that he was running for the GOP nomination addressed fentanyl issues, but it appears to have been removed from the site.
Fentanyl’s high potency means that a small amount can produce a significant effect. This cost-effectiveness makes it appealing to both drug traffickers & users seeking a powerful high at a lower cost than other substances. Read more in my latest blog post.https://t.co/Vy5HqrV5X0
— Will Hurd (@WillHurd) March 23, 2023
“Fentanyl’s high potency means that a small amount can produce a significant effect,” he said. “This cost-effectiveness makes it appealing to both drug traffickers & users seeking a powerful high at a lower cost than other substances.”
Previous Quotes And Social Media Posts
The majority of Hurd’s comments on drug policy issues revolve around international trafficking.
In 2019, the then-congressman, who represented a district that borders Mexico, called on President Donald Trump to back off his plan to withhold his signatures from government funding legislation without erecting a border wall.
“Everyone tries to act like this is some scary drug cartel movie back in the day,” he said, disputing Trump’s claims that a border wall is necessary to prevent the flow of illicit drugs like heroin. Instead, Hurd said that the government should embrace “smart solutions” like increased funding for better technology to address the issue.
“Drug cartels and smugglers exacerbate the border crisis and put innocent lives at risk,” he said. “Understanding and dismantling their networks should be a national intelligence priority.”
Drug cartels and smugglers exacerbate the border crisis and put innocent lives at risk. Understanding and dismantling their networks should be a national intelligence priority.
— Will Hurd (@WillHurd) December 12, 2019
He also met with then-U.S. Ambassador to Guatemala Emanuel Espina in 2018 to discuss the country’s collaboration on “combating the challenges of human trafficking, drug smuggling & illegal immigration on our southern border.”
The Guatemalans have been a key partner of the U.S. in combating the challenges of human trafficking, drug smuggling & illegal immigration on our southern border. Great to meet with Ambassador Emanuel Espina today, & I look forward to continued collaboration on shared solutions. pic.twitter.com/sYfihDcquh
— Will Hurd (@WillHurd) July 25, 2018
“How about we ‘regularize’ working together to stop drug cartels, human smugglers, and traffickers who have used Mexico as a safe haven to conduct their operations, all of which directly impact security at our border?” he said in 2022, responding to a Fox News article about the Mexican president’s comments about normalizing immigration policy under the Biden administration.
How about we "regularize" working together to stop drug cartels, human smugglers, and traffickers who have used Mexico as a safe haven to conduct their operations, all of which directly impact security at our border? https://t.co/tOw2q02Fak
— Will Hurd (@WillHurd) July 13, 2022
Personal Experience With Marijuana
It does not appear that Hurd has publicly discussed any personal experience he’s had with marijuana.
Marijuana Under A Hurd Presidency
As a general theme, Hurd doesn’t seem to have interest in talking about drug policy issues beyond international trafficking concerns. But his congressional voting record on cannabis leaves little room to expect that he’d embrace even modest bipartisan reforms like marijuana business banking access, much less legalization.