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US House candidates agree on marijuana, argue about trade

September 19, 2018

FILE - This combination of file photos shows candidates for the U.S. House from North Dakota, Republican state Sen. Kelly Armstrong, left, and Democrat Mac Schneider. The two face off in a debate Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018, in Fargo. (Bismarck Tribune via AP, File)

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — U.S. House candidates Kelly Armstrong and Mac Schneider of North Dakota said during a debate Wednesday that neither of them would vote in favor of the recreational marijuana measure on the state’s November ballot.

The two lawyers added that the key question is how Congress addresses the issue.

Armstrong, a Republican from Dickinson, said during the event on KFGO radio in Fargo that he views the state proposal as bad legislation, although he believes “there’s a real chance that it passes.” He said he would like to see clarification at the federal level — where marijuana is still considered on the same level as drugs like heroin and methamphetamine — and believes states should have the authority to make their own decision on it.

Schneider, a Democrat from Grand Forks, said he’s not a supporter of legalizing pot for recreational use.

“Beyond that, I do agree with my opponent, Sen. Armstrong,” Schneider said. “I think the key question is how we vote on this if we got to Congress. I want to be clear ... that if I represent North Dakota in Congress, I would vote to leave this decision up to the states.”

Schneider said he’s focusing on issues that residents “talk about around their kitchen table,” such as jobs, health care, education and access to a secure retirement. He criticized Armstrong for voting for corporate farming and supporting policies that have led to a trade war.

“North Dakota only has one representative in Congress,” Schneider said. “I will work with both parties to make sure North Dakota is effectively represented.”

Armstrong said North Dakota residents are proud of what they produce and have set an example for the rest of the nation.

“The message we take to Washington D.C. is a simple message and we can continue to do it every single day when we’re down there,” Armstrong said. “That’s just simply: What is good for North Dakota is good for the country.”

On trade, Armstrong said he’s worried about the escalation of tariffs, but added that North Dakota is President Donald Trump country and he also supports the president. Schneider responded that Armstrong talks about the harm of trade policies but won’t “stand up to the administration.”

It was the fourth debate with Armstrong and Schneider. This one included independent candidate Charles Tuttle, of Minot, who said he’s running because he’s “sick and tired” that things are not getting done by federal lawmakers.

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