Neither major presidential candidate has emerged as the nominee for the United States of Weed.
One thing we learned when polling Fresh Toast readers about which presidential candidate they believe would legalize cannabis if elected: Little faith exists that either major party candidate is pro-marijuana. Belief in Donald Trump and Joe Biden enacting serious cannabis reform was split almost evenly among our readers.
This is an unscientific poll and does not necessarily reflect the views of Americans at large. But it should provide some insight into how online cannabis advocates view Biden and Trump in the upcoming election.
More than 5,600 readers participated in an online Facebook poll that asked: “Who is more likely to legalize marijuana if elected?” Biden received 52% support while Trump had 48% of all votes cast. The lack of a clear frontrunner among cannabis advocates was expected, as both Trump and Biden have distanced themselves from marijuana reform at a time when some prominent members of their party have.
Though he campaigned in 2016 as someone open to cannabis issues, Trump has earned a reputation as anti-legalization as of late. A whistleblower told Congress earlier this year Attorney General William Barr, who was hand-picked by Trump, was inappropriately using Justice Department funds to target the legal cannabis industry and cause financial setbacks.
In addition, a secret memo released as part of a lawsuit showed the Trump Administration had quietly blocked cannabis research for years. A Trump 2020 campaign director also indicated that Trump believed parents needed to keep cannabis out of the hands of children, although research finds that cannabis legalization was linked with a decline in adolescent use.
A contingent of Democrat voters hoped Biden would embrace cannabis reform ahead of the election, but the former Vice President has rejected the possibility. His official platform includes federal decriminalization and removing marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Even a task force formed with Sen. Bernie Sanders, a well-known supporter of federal legalization, did not sway Biden in changing his mind on cannabis.
Biden participated in and advanced America’s War on Drugs throughout his career in the Senate. On the campaign trail, Biden has stated some confusing and at times conflicting opinions on cannabis. He stated he “knew a lot of weed smokers” and that helped him understand marijuana’s long-term impact on brain development. But he also emphasized marijuana was not a gateway drug in an audio recording obtained by Politico. “I think It is at the point where it has to be, basically, legalized,” he added, a statement that he later backtracked.
The primary complaint lodged by Fresh Toast readers was that we did not include third party candidates like Libertarian party nominee Dr. Jo Jorgensen and Green party nominee Howie Hawkins. Both have stated they would prioritize ending the Drug War if elected. However, both candidates polled at less than 2% in a recent CNBC/Change poll and aren’t expected to make significant noise in the upcoming election.