Criminal justice reform, including marijuana legalization, will be a prominent issue in the 2020 presidential election.
- Under the Trump administration, the Department of Justice has aggressively cracked down on marijuana operations in states that have legalised the drug.
- All of the declared Democratic presidential candidates and one possible Republican contender have come out in support of marijuana legalization at the federal level.
While the issue of marijuana legalization and decriminalization was once a source of division among the Democratic Party, it has since become a mainstream stance among most Democrats, especially those running on platforms revolving around criminal justice reform.
Recreational marijuana is now legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia. A total of 33 states have approved marijuana use for medicinal purposes.
Under the Trump administration and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice has aggressively cracked down on marijuana operations in states that have legalised the drug – making marijuana a prominent issue in the 2020 presidential election.
So far, nearly every single declared Democratic presidential candidate and one potential Republican contender have come out in support of both decriminalization and legalization of marijuana at the federal level.
New Jersey Senator and presidential candidate Cory Booker formally introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, an ambitious piece of legislation that aims to de-classify marijuana’s status as a schedule one drug and expunge thousands of federal marijuana possession convictions.
Other presidential candidates, including Sens. Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bernie Sanders, signed on to the legislation as co-sponsors.
And last year, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren put forth the bipartisan STATES Act with GOP Sen. Cory Gardner, which would prohibit the DOJ from prosecuting the use and commercial sale of marijuana in states that have legalised the drug.
Here’s where all the 2020 candidates stand on federal marijuana policy:
President Donald Trump supports decriminalizing marijuana but believes legalization should be left up to the states — and reportedly made efforts to rein in Sessions’ war on legal marijuana.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey not only introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in the Senate, but has made criminal justice reform a centrepiece of his presidential campaign, calling for legalization in his campaign announcement.
Source: Business Insider
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, a former prosecutor, only recently came out in support of legalization, saying “states should have the right to determine the best approach to marijuana within their borders.”
Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper supports decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, but believes the question of legalization should be left up to individual states to decide.
Source: The Hill
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act, saying “millions of Americans’ lives have been devastated because of our broken marijuana policies” and the bill would “fix decades of injustice caused by our nation’s failed drug policies.”
Source: Kirsten Gillibrand
Sen. Kamala Harris of California prosecuted hundreds of marijuana offenses while serving as California’s attorney general, and opposed a 2010 legalization referendum in California. She has since come out in favour of legalizing the drug at the federal level.
Source: Business Insider
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke has been a proponent of marijuana legalization throughout his entire political career. In a recent email to supporters, he endorsed legalizing the drug nationwide and expunging all previous marijuana convictions.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana told the Boston Globe that “the safe, regulated, and legal sale of marijuana is an idea whose time has come for the United States.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii recently introduced a bi-partisan bill in the House with GOP Rep. Don Young to de-criminalise marijuana at the federal level.
Sources: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont was the first 2016 Democratic candidate to come out in support marijuana legalization, and is a co-sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act.
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington not only oversaw the state’s legalization of marijuana in 2012, but he recently pardoned around 3,500 Washingtonians with misdemeanour marijuana possession convictions.
Former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary Julian Castro said in 2017 that it was “a mistake” for the DOJ to aggressively prosecute marijuana offenses, adding that Colorado and other states had shown “we can sensibly legalise marijuana use with reasonable controls in place.”
Rep. John Delaney of Maryland also supports legalization, saying the war on drugs has “contributed to a criminal justice system where people of colour are disproportionately harmed.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has been an outspoken proponent of marijuana legalization in the Senate. In addition to introducing the STATES Act, she is also a cosponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act.
Author and motivational speaker Marianne Williamson’s campaign is heavily focused on social and racial justice issues, telling the Boston Globe she “wholeheartedly” supports legalization.
Entrepreneur and businessman Andrew Yang said in December that federal “criminalization of marijuana is stupid and racist, particularly now that it’s legal in some states,” and said the US should “proceed with full legalization.”
Massachusetts’ former Republican Governor and 2016 Libertarian vice-presidential nominee Bill Weld supports decriminalization at the federal level, and is on the advisory board of marijuana company Acerage.
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