Wednesday night officially kicked off the 2020 Election season with the first Democratic presidential debate, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker featured as the standout candidates. Though 15.3 million viewers watched the candidates discuss a variety of topics pertinent to the American voter, Booker expressed disappointment over the one topic not debated—marijuana legalization.
“I am absolutely disappointed that wasn’t an issue when you see voters turning out this issue all over the country,” Booker told Business Insider after the debate.
Considering Booker’s behind one of the most progressive cannabis reform bills in Congress, his chagrin is understandable. Earlier this year Booker re-introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, which would remove cannabis from the federal controlled substances list, automatically expunge the convictions of those who served federal time due to marijuana use or possession charges, as well as reinvesting in communities most negatively impacted by the federal War on Drugs.
Booker was dismayed he didn’t have the opportunity to lay out his vision to American voters regarding one of his biggest platform points.
“I would like to see the federal government end its making marijuana illegal and pull back and let the states do what the want,” Booker said. “But I am also one of those people that thinks you cannot talk about marijuana legalization if in the same sentence you’re not talking about expunging the records of those Americans who have criminal convictions for doing things that two of the last three presidents admitted to doing.”
The lack of marijuana legalization is worthy of Booker’s criticism. Not only is Booker responsible for the Marijuana Justice Act, the bill was also co-sponsored by Warren and four other candidates who will hit the debate stage Thursday night—Sens. Bernie Sanders, Michael Bennett, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand.
Almost all of the Democratic presidential candidates have laid out some platform around federal cannabis reform on the campaign trial. The lone exception to the Democratic green rush remains former Vice President Joe Biden.