With so many states legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical use these days, it is no wonder that it has become a huge issue in the 2020 race for president. Many Americans are beginning to see it as far from being a dangerous narcotic and a gateway to snacks as opposed to other dangerous drugs. In fact, the majority of states have some form of decriminalization or medical laws on the books with a few that have outright legalized it in recent years. Marijuana has gone from being a stigma and surrounded by fear to being fully embraced by many for its healing and pain-relieving benefits. Cannabis has proven to be a highly versatile plant with a wide range of medical benefits as well as a myriad of other useful applications in the form of hemp. It is no wonder that the issue of legalization has become such a hot topic and you may be wondering which presidential candidates support the legalization of weed?
Oh, good ole Trump. One of the most polarizing figures in our political landscape in decades. It is no wonder that Trump does not support the legalization of pot. He has routinely said one thing and did another. For example, his original campaign promise to let the states choose was broken when it was decided to rescind upon the Cole memo and call for the suppression of legalization states. Furthermore, he nominated Jeff Sessions for attorney general, a man who has an unhealthy obsession with getting rid of marijuana altogether. If that was not enough, in 2018, Trump shot down bills put in place to help veterans get access to medical marijuana. This is all very damning evidence that the president has no desire to legalize weed anytime soon.
Weld is the former governor of Massachusetts and former Libertarian candidate running for president this year. Weld and cannabis have had a very peculiar relationship. During Reagan’s administration in the 1980s, Weld was Reagan’s man in Massachusetts leading the war on drugs there. By 2016 Weld was running to be Gary Johnsons Vice President on an anti-prohibition platform. Is he just going with what is popular to secure more votes? Or are his ideas changing with the times and new evidence? Although we cannot be sure of his motives Weld has said, “I think [national legalization] is inevitable. I don’t think any politician is going to be able to stop it.”
Biden is the former Vice President of the United States under the Obama Administration and being a democrat you would think he supported the legalization of marijuana. Conversely, Biden is the only Democratic candidate that does not support legalization. He has historically been a very vocal proponent of the war on drugs. Although he does support making weed a schedule II drug instead of a schedule I. This would open it up to research and have much lesser penalties. Biden in 2010 said, “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces and legalizing it… The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug.” But then just last year he remarked, “I don’t think it is a gateway drug. There’s no evidence I’ve seen to suggest that,” and supported an effort to decriminalize pot. Is Biden just waking up to the facts or is he flip-flopping to gain voter support?
Bloomberg supports leaving legalization up to the individual states, but is staunchly opposed to federal legalization. He has had a troubling past with pot in that while being mayor of New York he actually expanded the “stop-and-frisk” program which led to over 5 million stops by the police. The real tragedy is that this program primarily stopped people of color and led to more weed-related arrests than any other. Furthermore, Bloomberg has been quoted saying, “And today incidentally, we are trying to legalize another addictive narcotic [marijuana]…which is perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done.”
A military veteran and representative from Hawaii, Gabbard has advocated for bills that would allow access to weed for veterans. She has routinely sponsored or co-sponsored bills that support the legalization of marijuana. In fact, in March of 2019, she and Don Young introduced the Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act. This bill would take weed off the list of controlled substances and give the states the ability to choose how to handle it. Gabbard has said, “[The criminal justice system] puts people in prison for smoking marijuana while allowing corporations like Purdue Pharma, who are responsible for the opioid-related deaths of thousands of people, to walk away scot-free with their coffers full.”
Warren is a senator from the state of Massachusetts. In 2016 she did not support the adult-use cannabis bill, but has since changed her tune. Going on to sponsor and endorse a variety of bills designed to change the laws on weed. This includes the STATES Act, which is the leading bill to end federal marijuana prohibition. Warren has said, “No one should go to jail for a joint. But more Americans are arrested for marijuana possession than all violent crimes combined.”
Sanders has been a supporter of legalization for over 20 years and was also the first candidate for president to support legalization back in 2016. He plans to legalize it by executive order if need be. Sanders is also one of the biggest supporters of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would remove weed from the controlled substances list and expunge federal convictions due to marijuana. Sanders has been quoted saying, “Right now, marijuana is listed by the federal government as a Schedule I drug—meaning that it is considered to be as dangerous as heroin. That is absurd,” and is one of the most pro-cannabis candidates running today.