The legalization of marijuana on a federal level in the United States seems to be on the way in. More and more states are decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana, and that means that federal legalization is no longer a question of “if,” but “when”? With that in mind, it’s good to know where the Democratic presidential nominees stand on the issue of marijuana and its legalization.
Although this list below is not all the dems running in the 2020 election it does give a sense of the direction we are heading with legalization in America. Which candidate speaks to you?
The New Jersey senator strongly supports the legalization of marijuana and expunging criminal records for pot offenses. Booker has introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, a bill that would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and expunge past records as well as create a fund of reparations for communities that have been unjustly targeted by marijuana laws. In an interview with Rolling Stone Booker stated:
“This has been a driving purpose of mine since I watched, firsthand, how privileged people could use marijuana without fear and without concern for repercussions. And how poor kids and minority kids have no margins whatsoever. This, to me, is so much bigger than one election.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden is not an advocate for marijuana legalization. Early in his career, dating back to the 1970’s Biden talked about marijuana being a gateway drug. He was a large part of the war on drugs and architected policies that created the system that expanded a costly, racist, and unjust system for handling drug offenses. He does want to decriminalize marijuana and expunge records of people with possession offenses, but he stops short of calling for legalization. Some industry people worry though that Biden’s plans for marijuana would be harmful to the industry, not just behind the times.
Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg has stated that he is for the legalization of marijuana on a federal level. On his campaign website Buttigieg says that:
“We will, on the federal level, eliminate incarceration for drug possession, reduce sentences for other drug offenses and apply these reductions retroactively, legalize marijuana and expunge past convictions.”
In his political history, he has never signed anything into legislation regarding marjuana, but it is promising to see that he has a strong stance on it for his 2020 run.
Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas, who also served as the Housing and Urban Development Secretary under President Obama, hasn’t had as much to say about marijuana until recently. He’s said that he is for the legalization of it federally and wants to expunge the records for past marijuana convictions, however his website doesn’t mention that anywhere and he hasn’t said much else on the movement for legalization. He has criticized the Trump organization through a Facebook post, in which he called it a mistake to crack down on states that have legalized marijuana use.
California senator and former state Attorney General Kamala Harris has stated on her website that as part of her criminal justice reform plan, that she will fight to legalize marjuana federally. She has also spoken up about expunging past offenses from criminal records. In an interview, Harris said that she has tried pot as well. She hasn’t always been a full supporter for marijuana legalization though. She opposed a measure that would have legalized marijuana in California back in 2010. She co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act however, and that is a move for progress on her end as she has seemed to come around to legalization the longer she’s been in politics.
Minnesota senator Klobuchar said recently that “I support the legalization of marijuana and believe that states should have the right to determine the best approach to marijuana within their borders,” in a statement to the Washington Post. However, she’s been quiet on the issue up until this point. Her campaign website doesn’t mention anything about marijuana and legalization.
Vermont senator Sanders has the longest record of supporting marijuana legalization of his fellow candidates for presidency. He has co-sponsored many bills seeking to legalize marijuana since the early 1990’s when he was a House representative, including New Jersey senator Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act. When he spoke with Joe Rogan on his podcast, Sanders stated:
“that [marijuana’s Schedule I classification] is insane. Heroin is a killer drug. You can argue the pluses and minuses of marijuana, but marijuana ain’t heroin. So we have to end that, and that’s what I will do as president of the United States. I believe we can do that through executive order, and I will do that.”
Massachusetts senator Warren hasn’t always been a strong supporter of marijuana legalization. Back in 2016, Massachusetts had a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. Warren said she was open to the possibility of legalization, however she was hesitant in outright supporting it. It seems she’s come around to it in recent years though. She has spoken about it frequently during her 2020 campaign. She vocalized her support of legalization on Twitter this year when she co-sponsored Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act.
Entrepreneur and former attorney, Yang has made marijuana a part of his policy plans on his campaign website.
“I would legalize marijuana and then I would pardon everyone who’s in jail for a non-violent drug-related offense,”
Yang said at the National Action Network conference. As the only 2020 candidate on the list who has no political history, it’s great to see that he has a policy plan for legalization, but it’s also important to note that he has no history of support for it.
While not every candidate is a strong supporter for the legalization of marijuana federally in the United States, it is promising to see that many candidates have come around to legalization or have had a long career of supporting marijuana.