Presidential contenders for the 2020 democratic party are embracing the idea of federal cannabis legalization.
So far, Beto O’Rourke (Texas Congressman) hopes to expunge the records of those arrested for cannabis in the past. Cory Booker (New Jersey Senator) reintroduced his U.S. senate bill calling for nationwide cannabis legalization. And Kamala Harris (California Senator) admitted that she has smoked before, and “inhaled”. As it turns out, many of the democratic presidential candidates want the country to know that they’re on board with cannabis use and legalization.
Some people are wondering whether they are truly pro-cannabis or just publicly embracing it because of how mainstream it has become. Regardless of the reasoning or motives, their campaigns are highlighting the fact that public opinion on cannabis has seen a tremendous shift over the years: from a taboo, illicit drug, to safe substance that nearly everyone either uses, has used, or supports.
Times are Changing
A Gallup poll from October states that two-thirds of Americans support full legalization. That includes three out of every four democrats and a slim majority of registered republicans as well. Ten states and D.C. have legalized adult-use cannabis and over 30 states have some enacted some type of medical program.
Overall, most of the presidential contenders have expressed some degree of support for cannabis legalization, many citing issues with racial minorities and the criminal justice system. It’s well-documented that African Americans and Hispanics are arrested and incarcerated for cannabis possession at much higher rates than Caucasians.
“The Democratic candidates are just acknowledging the practical and political reality – this (cannabis legalization) is not only good policy, it’s good politics,” said Erik Altieri, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
The Candidates’ Opinions
“We should end the federal prohibition on marijuana and expunge the records of those who were locked away for possessing it, ensuring that they can get work, finish their education, and contribute to the greatness of this country,” O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman stated in an email to his supporters.
“We do not have equal justice under the law,” said New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. “I believe in redemption. It means changing our drug laws. Ending prohibition against marijuana. This is a cancer on the soul of our country. Too many of our children are being shuttled into cages.”
When asked if she had smoked before on the Breakfast Club radio show in New York, Kamala Harris didn’t dodge the question. “I have,” she responded. “And I inhaled … I did inhale. It was a long time ago. But, yes.” She also added, “Listen, I think it gives a lot of people joy and we need more joy in this world.”
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