Most Democratic Candidates Favor Marijuana Legalization -- With One Important Exception
As Mexico prepares to join Canada in legalizing marijuana at the federal level, a U.S. Democratic presidential candidate suggested that the United States should do the same as part of the battle against the opioid crisis.
In an extraordinary moment noticed by marijuana advocates, former U.S. congressman Beto O’Rourke of El Paso, Texas, said during the October Democratic primary debate that he had met a veteran who had become addicted to opioids.
“Now imagine that veteran, instead of being prescribed an opioid, had been prescribed marijuana, because we made that legal in America [and] ensured the VA could prescribe it, expunge the arrest records for those who’d been arrested for possession and made sure that he was not prescribed something to which he would become addicted,” he said.
Most Of The Other Candidates Also Favor Marijuana Legalization
Candidate Andrew Yang immediately backed O’Rourke’s position, saying “Yes, Beto, preach” during O’Rourke’s answer.
In a much more light-hearted moment, Sen. Cory Booker told Sen. Bernie Sanders that he knows the Vermont senator endorses medical marijuana. Sanders nodded in agreement, smiled and said, “I’m not on it tonight.”
Overall, most of the leading presidential candidates for the Democrats have come out to support the legalization of marijuana at the national level. That includes Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and Booker.
Buttigieg calls for decriminalizing all drugs, saying counseling is needed to get to the bottom of why people use drugs, not convictions. Booker, Harris, Sanders and Warren are also all co-sponsors of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would make cannabis legal at the federal level and expunge arrest records.
But there’s one important exception to all of this.
Joe Biden Does Not Favor Legalization
Interestingly, the frontrunner in the Democratic primary -- former Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden -- does not support federal legalization. Instead, Biden is in favor of decriminalization and making marijuana a Schedule II drug instead of a Schedule I drug, which he argues will make it easier to do cannabis research, according to USA Today.
However, marijuana advocates are concerned about Biden’s position. Rolling Stone wrote that “when it comes to marijuana legalization, Biden is basically the worst candidate in the race.”
Erik Altieri, the executive director of NORML, told Rolling Stone that Biden’s record on marijuana law reform, ending the War on Drugs and stopping mass incarcerations is “abysmal.”
For this part, Biden said in May that “no one should be in jail because of smoking marijuana.” He wants the decision on recreational marijuana legalization left up to each state individually, however.
Critics of the former Vice President said that they believe he is just trying to walk a fine line between young voters who want to legalize marijuana, and older voters “who remember his years helping wage the War on Drugs,” according to USA Today.
It is worth noting that support for legalizing marijuana on the national level seems in line with voters, as two-thirds of the American people favor doing so, according to a Gallup poll.