Where do the 2020 candidates stand on marijuana reform? Here’s what we know so far.
The 2020 presidential campaign season is in full swing, and marijuana is a hot topic on the trail. Cannabis is currently legal for recreational use in 11 states, and for medicinal purposes in an additional 35.
With the majority of states on board with the “green rush,” the stances presidential candidates in 2020 are taking are more important than ever.
Cannabis opinions among the candidates vary greatly and are more or less towing the party lines. Here is a breakdown of each of the candidate’s previous statements and published policy stances, if available, presented by party and in alphabetical order.
Former Vice President Joe Biden (D)
Joe Biden is among the dwindling numbers of party centrists who hasn’t publicly supported or proposed a plan for federal legalization. As recently as November of 2019 Biden has been quoted as saying, “let me tell you, the truth of the matter is there’s not nearly been enough evidence acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug. It’s a debate. Before I legalize it nationally, I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.” Later clarifications by staff have said Biden supports national decriminalization, potential expungement of past convictions, and moving the drug to Schedule 2, though, as we have covered here, Biden has also recently said “marijuana should be a misdemeanor.”
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D)
According to campaign spokesman Marc LaVorgna, Mayor Bloomberg “believes no one should have their life ruined by getting arrested for possession, and, as a part of his reform efforts that drove incarceration down by 40%, he worked to get New York State laws changed to end low-level possession arrests.” Lavorgna continued, saying Bloomberg “believes in decriminalization and doesn’t believe the federal government should interfere with states that have already legalized,” which is still in stark contrast to his past.
Bloomberg had this to say about legalizing cannabis in January of 2020, “We are trying to legalize another addictive narcotic, which is perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done,” which we covered more in depth here.
Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D)
Gabbard is among the most vocal and earliest open supporters of cannabis legalization amongst the current crop of presidential hopefuls. In a tweet from 2018, Rep. Gabbard says: “Legalizing adult use of marijuana is common sense and long overdue. We need to remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances, stop turning everyday Americans into criminals, and pass real criminal justice reform now.” This is just one of many quotes on the subject available on her campaign website. She has also sponsored many bills in support of marijuana policy reform and is a member of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (IND/D)
Bernie has cannabis legalization in his plan for first 100 days. According to his campaign website, Senator Sanders wants to legalize adult use marijuana federally as well as vacating and expunging past convictions. Sanders goes further by having a full platform dedicated to repaying the communities most affected by the War on Drugs, and by creating governmental frameworks to “Ensure Legalized Marijuana Does Not Turn Into Big Tobacco.” Senator Sanders is objectively the most cannabis friendly candidate currently in the running often tweeting in support of his proposed policy positions.
President Donald Trump (R)
The incumbent president and virtual shoe-in for the Republican nomination for President has a confusing relationship with cannabis legalization. Like most of the candidates from the other side of the aisle, Trump has stated he believes states should have the right to choose their own laws. In recordings of the President, he has privately expressed that he believes cannabis makes users “lose IQ points” in recent videos available on Forbes.
Though he has also publicly stated that he doesn’t believe cannabis prohibition works and told Senator Cory Gardner that he opposed federal meddling in legalized states. As of now, it appears President Trump is comfortable with the status quo and won’t be moving legalization efforts forward or backwards.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D)
Senator Warren has a plan for federal legalization, decriminalization, expungement, and social equity in the current industry very similar to Bernie’s according to her campaign website. Warren doesn’t include these measures into her first 100 days, but she does take it a step further by furthering her social equity plans to also include tribal sovereignty for Native Americans and specific plans for research through the Department of Veterans Affairs.