Marijuana legalization has emerged as a ‘smoking hot’ issue and each of the four frontrunners is now formulating their stand around the issue before 2020 Presidential Elections. So, if you’re a pothead, who should your vote go to… We explain.
The activism for legalization of weed in the US has grown over the decade. In a recent survey, two-thirds of Americans support the legalization of marijuana. Therefore, inadvertently marijuana legalization has emerged as a ‘smoking hot’ issue which has been addressed by each of the four prominent names in the running for the 2020 Presidential Elections.
Two-thirds of Americans now support the legalization of marijuana.
In fact, marijuana is second only to alcohol as the most common form of recreational intoxication in the world. In the US, stoners have developed cult status across years and a substantial population uses marijuana for recreational purposes.
Out of the four favorites to become POTUS in 2020, Democrats Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are pro =legalization. Both have vowed to bring in the legislation if they enter the White House.
Marijuana legalization is an important political tool in US presidential elections 2020.
On the other hand, ex-Vice President Joe Biden is against the legalization of marijuana. Seeking a second term as POTUS, Donald Trump has also shown support for marijuana legalization, boosting his chances for re-election.
Individual Stands of the US Presidential Hopefuls for 2020
In 2016, Sanders was the only major-party candidate to call for the legalization of marijuana. He has emphasized he wants to make marijuana legal in every American state and won’t allow prohibition that continues in certain states.
Sanders has said, “Right now, unbelievably, under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is at the same level as Heroin, which is insane.”
Furthermore, he continues, “So, we take it out of that, which essentially legalizes marijuana all over this country.”
Sanders’ stance is to ensure that the communities that have struggled the most due to marijuana prohibition are the ones that profit and not large corporations. As per Sanders, “It sounds unfair that when we legalize marijuana, you end up having a handful of corporations controlling that industry.”
A Three-Step Process to legalization
The US Senator from Vermont even has an effective 3-step vision for the legislation. Sanders reiterated that if elected, he would take “executive action to de-schedule and legalize nationwide and expunge as many prior marijuana-related convictions as possible.”
Furthermore, he plans to stop large corporations from controlling the market, as part of his plan. Sanders also aims to “provide funding to promote participation in the legal industry by individuals from communities most impacted by the war on drugs.”
To this cause, Sanders wants to reinvest tax revenue from marijuana sales and also initiate a $20 billion grant program to provide access to capital and stimulate business for African-American, Latino, and other communities that are historically disproportionately impacted by prohibition and have been hit hardest by the drug war.
Elizabeth Warren has come a long way from opposing Marijuana in 2012. She is now wooing voters by promising to use her executive authority to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. This would ease the legalization of the drug at a federal level.
The Senior US Senator from Massachusetts has evolved her stand on the issue of marijuana legalization in the US. In 2011, during a Democratic senate primary debate, Warren backed the use of marijuana for medical purposes but was against marijuana legalization then. Finally, in 2016, Warren came out in support of legalizing marijuana in Massachusetts.
An Evolved Stand from 2011
Since then, her stand has liberalized rapidly. In February 2019, Warren co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act. She also co-backed the STATES (Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States) Act with Senator Cory Gardner which was reintroduced in April 2019. Consequently, the STATES Act will allow individual states to regulate marijuana without federal interference by amending the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
Warren’s official answer to the presidential question on marijuana legalization was, “I support delisting marijuana as a Schedule I drug to limit federal intervention when states have already legalized marijuana … I also support the full legalization of marijuana and restorative justice for those unjustly jailed for marijuana crimes.”
Joe Biden had left all democrat hopefuls in his wake early on but the crowd has now caught up. And his contradictory stand to the public opinion on marijuana legalization is not helping the former Vice President’s 2020 president cause. Biden has repeatedly said that the reputation of marijuana as a gateway drug is behind his stand of not supporting legalization.
Speaking at Las Vegas town hall, Biden said, “The truth of the matter is, there’s not nearly been enough evidence that has been acquired as to whether or not it is a gateway drug. It’s a debate, and I want a lot more before I legalize it nationally. I want to make sure we know a lot more about the science behind it.”
However, Biden has said that he supports medical marijuana and possession shouldn’t be a crime. He also supports the idea of states being allowed to make their own judgment on marijuana legalization.
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Biden’s New Found Wisdom
Biden’s trajectory on marijuana legalization is in contrast to much of his 40-year senatorial career where he has been in support of the war on drugs which created harsh criminal penalties for nonviolent drug users.
Biden has stated that he will bring in a massive criminal justice reform plan. This includes decriminalizing marijuana that “cuts down on rates of incarceration and fix the racial, gender, and also income-based disparities in the system”.
Biden also supports the removal of past convictions for possession. However, while he argues for more scientific research, his stand calling marijuana a gateway drug is more conservative than the National Institute on Drug Abuse which says that research shows that the majority of marijuana users do not go on to use other ‘harder’ substances.
President Trump is a Twitterati at heart and loves giving his opinions on topics especially related to trade and media bias. However, the POTUS has stayed away from talking much about marijuana legalization.
Trump left legalization and regulation of marijuana sales to the states throughout his first tenure.
In fact, his ex-Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a noted prohibitionist who tried reviving anti-marijuana sentiments. However, his replacement with William Barr who has expressed support for a legislative fix for conflicting state and federal marijuana laws.
But now with marijuana legalization becoming a serious presidential talking point in 2020, there are reports that the POTUS is set to support marijuana legalization and boost his chances of coming back to the office.
POTUS’ Big Hint?
Last week, when a DC Examiner reporter questioned President Trump on the issue, he said, “We’re going to see what’s going on. It’s a very big subject and right now we are allowing states to make that decision.”
So, in 2016, Trump had said he supported marijuana legalization for medical purposes. For broader recreational legalization, Trump had also stated that it should be a ‘state-by-state’ issue. Similarly, in 2018, Trump had said he “really” supported Senator Cory Gardner’s bill to protect states with legal cannabis systems fr.om federal intervention.
However, the comments come after the surgeon general issued a warning against cannabis use by adolescents and pregnant women. The advisory did not mention that federal data shows that youth marijuana use has declined since states began enacting legalization laws.
So, who’s the best bet as POTUS 2020 for a pothead?
The advancement of decriminalization and legalization efforts has newfound energy in the US today. However, the fate of marijuana in the US Senate is still murky.
Research shows that the US President’s stand on marijuana is the biggest influencer of public perception.
While President Reagan’s harsh anti-drug rhetoric pulled public support for marijuana down by 27% in the 70s, there is majority support for legalization since 2014.
So, for a pothead, the stand of the incoming POTUS will be vital. Biden’s stand is more or less an effort to improve his ratings. However, he is still wary of hurting his anti-cannabis supporters.
President Trump also hasn’t shed a lot of light for us to completely understand how he feels about the issue. However, the issue isn’t a topic he is passionate about for sure.
So, Senator Warren and Sanders are the two front-runners who are firmly in favor of marijuana legalization. But Warren’s stand has evolved and is influenced by public perception. Moreover, she lacks as profound a plan as Senator Sanders, who arguably emerged as the best bet.
Sanders is perhaps the most vocal and earliest supporter of legalizing marijuana. Moreover, he is a man with a plan.