Although the latest pool of Democratic presidential candidates has come out in support of marijuana legalization at the national level, there is some concern that many of them are bandwagon jumpers and will not actually bring about any substantial change if they were to take office.
But some of them, including Beto O’Rourke, have been huge supporters of drug reform long before it was cool to do so.
A recent report from Vox shows that O’Rourke’s earlier support for pot reform goes as far back as 2009 when he called for “an honest, open national debate on ending the prohibition of narcotics” as a member of the El Paso City Council. He was one of the driving forces behind a resolution demanding that Congress take a serious look at the legalization of drugs as a means for weakening Mexican cartel operations linked to increased violence, including a slew of murders.
“If our drug laws were different, I will absolutely guarantee you that our body count would be different,” he said.
In 2011, O’Rourke and council colleague Susie Byrd published a book called Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope In the U.S. and Mexico, which not only pointed out how the War on Drugs has been an absolute failure, but it also detailed their support for marijuana legalization.
“The only rational alternative to the War on Drugs is to end to the current prohibition on marijuana,” the book reads.
In the past, O’Rourke has gone up against City Council members who opposed a more progressive approach to drugs and has cosponsored nearly two dozen drug reform bills during his political career.
In fact, his work in the area of drug reform has landed him above average ratings with nation cannabis advocacy group NORML. The group even endorsed him as a candidate during his bid for Senate.
While O’ Rourke was unsuccessful in beating Senator Ted Cruz last year for a spot in the upper chamber, he is now gunning to become the next president. And if that happens, he wants to make nationwide marijuana legalization a priority. The United States “should end the federal prohibition on marijuana,” he said last week in Iowa.
It is important to point out that O’Rourke is only interested in legalizing marijuana. He said last year that “heroin and cocaine and fentanyl” should remain outlaw substances.