The presidential election of 2020 is going to be interesting for may reasons, but one of those reasons is likely to be that legalized marijuana will be a major topic candidates run on. There are many prominent figures in Washington D.C. already coming out in support of cannabis such as Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey that introduced the Marijuana Justice Act.
President Trump campaigned on a platform of allowing states to make decisions for themselves concerning cannabis, yet his nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has been nothing but threatening concerning state legalized marijuana. Will candidates that are advocating for legalized marijuana win your support?
Marijuana legalization just moved from the fringes of the last presidential campaign to center stage in 2020.
Between a sweeping new package of legislation introduced last week by one of the top Democratic presidential prospects and, on the other end of the spectrum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vigorous opposition to recreational use of marijuana, the debate over legalization of cannabis is about to receive a full airing on the presidential campaign trail.
While Bernie Sanders also supported medicinal use of marijuana and the decriminalization of recreational marijuana, drug policy stayed on the outskirts of the 2016 presidential debate, and growing action at the state level was barely acknowledged.
Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, a bipartisan nonprofit advocacy group, said New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s introduction of “the farthest-reaching bill ever proposed” will have a catalytic effect on the politics of legalized marijuana and the myriad criminal justice issues related to it.
“Booker is getting a ton of fantastic press about this,’’ he said. “And other candidates will notice that and will want to say, ‘I agree — and I want to introduce a bill of my own.’”
Booker’s rollout of the Marijuana Justice Act — introduced to a wide audience via Facebook Live — was more than just a call for legalizing marijuana at the federal level. The measure also addresses withholding federal funds for the construction of jails and prisons from states whose pot laws are shown to disproportionately incarcerate minorities; expunging federal convictions for cannabis use; and mandating sentencing hearings for prisoners now serving time for pot offenses.
“You see these marijuana arrests happening so much in our country, targeting certain communities — poor communities, minority communities — targeting people with an illness,” Booker, the former mayor of Newark, said.
With Republicans in control of the House and Senate, the ambitious legislation is viewed as unlikely to pass. But its attachment to a top prospective 2020 candidate — and the growing action on marijuana legalization at the state level — all but guarantees presidential contenders will need a fully formed position.
Several possible Democratic presidential candidates — including Booker and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — have already signed on to a separate bipartisan medical marijuana bill. In Massachusetts, where voters approved a ballot measure last year legalizing recreational marijuana, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has addressed the issues of creating legal and secure banking for the cannabis industry.