What Have 2020 Presidential Candidates Said About Marijuana Reform?

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Aside from whether or not the Trump Administration are doing quality job in-office or not, it’s time to start thinking about who’s next.

On November 3, 2020, the American people will vote for a new President of the United States. Ever since Trump became president in 2016, many politicians have been eagerly awaiting the 2020 Presidential Campaign. Now that the time is here, Presidential Candidates from both parties are gearing up for the campaign trail.

While there are many pressing topics for our Presidential Candidates to cover this election, many citizens are wondering what a new Administration would mean for marijuana. Let’s take a look at where marijuana reform stands today, and what are the presidential candidates’ marijuana stances?

Marijuana in the United States as of 2019

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Marijuana reform is on the move in the United States both federally and statewide. With a majority of the public in favor of marijuana legalization, it is tough to keep cannabis reform out of the Presidential Campaign. Plus, ten states and D.C. have already legalized marijuana for recreational use. Over half of the country has a medical marijuana program or at least some form of marijuana decriminalization. The time for marijuana reform is now.

  • Recreational: 10 States and D.C.
  • Medical: 33 States and D.C.
  • Decriminalization: 25 States and D.C.

Clearly, our nation is ready for marijuana reform on a federal level. Marijuana reform to this extent has been in the works for quite some time. Ever since Nixon prohibited marijuana with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, American Citizens have fought the uphill battle to get to where we are today.

2018 was a big year for marijuana and 2019 is likely to be even more significant. Aside from the widespread, statewide marijuana legalization and decriminalization, the Trump Administration signed the hemp farm bill into law. Not only did this establish the difference between hemp and cannabis, but it removed industrial hemp and CBD from the controlled substances list. Industrial hemp is finally legalized in the United States and will be regulated accordingly.

Moving into 2019 and the upcoming Presidential Campaign, marijuana is a major point of discussion. Even those candidates who wish to refrain from having a stance on marijuana will be forced to take action. With that in mind; what are the potential presidential candidates’ marijuana stances?

Democratic Presidential Candidates’ Marijuana Stances

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For some reason, marijuana reform is commonly associated with the Democratic Party. While marijuana legalization is a progressive topic, the Democrats often leave the marijuana discussion alone at the federal level.

Now that marijuana reform is slowly becoming one of President Trump’s platforms for his campaign, even without him announcing anything, the Democratic Candidates are now speaking up for marijuana. Nevertheless, opinions and approaches to marijuana reform vary drastically between all presidential candidates’ marijuana stances.

Sen. Kamala Harris

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U.S. Senator from California, Kamala Harris, announced she was running for President on January 21, 2019. Senator Harris is one of the favored candidates at the moment, and her stance on marijuana is peaking more interest amongst voters. Aside from her position on marijuana, Kamala Harris is a well-qualified candidate for the Presidency.

Marijuana Stance:

Senator Kamala Harris recently reported, “I did inhale. It was a long time ago.” The start of her campaign is utilizing her stance on marijuana to get in the limelight. While it seems Senator Harris will be in favor of marijuana reform moving forward, back-track to 2010, and she was opposed to marijuana reform.

It was not until 2015, did Senator Harris voice support for medical marijuana legalization. Fast-forward to today, and Kamala Harris is all for recreational legalization. Even stating in here recently published book;

“We need to legalize marijuana and regulate it. And we need to expunge nonviolent marijuana-related offenses from the records of the millions of people who have been arrested and incarcerated so they can get on with their lives.”

Sen. Cory Booker

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Announcing via Twitter, Cory Booker put his name into the running for the presidency on February 1, 2019. Cory Booker is one of the leading Senators for marijuana reform, and he has the track recorded to prove it. On top of his stellar resume for marijuana reform, Senator Booker is as qualified as it gets for the Presidency. Booker won a special election for the U.S. Senate in 2013 and later was elected for a full six-year term.

Marijuana Stance:

Senator Booker has either directly or vicariously supported marijuana reform since 2014. Whether it was supporting incarceration and criminal justice reform, or directly introducing marijuana reform, Booker is clearly in favor of pushing for marijuana legalization.

  • Introduced Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill in 2015
  • Constant Contact with Presidency and Leading Senators to Support Marijuana Reform throughout 2016
  • Reintroduced Medical Marijuana Bill in 2017
  • Introduced Landmark Marijuana Bill to End Federal Prohibition in 2017
  • Showed Constant Support for State Marijuana Programs
  • Booker Still Backs the H.R. 420 Bill by gaining Partisan and Bipartisan Support

It is pretty clear Senator Booker is one of the stronger Presidential Candidates for 2020, especially for marijuana supporters. Nevertheless, it is essential to make sure Senator Booker shares other goals and values aside from marijuana reform before giving him the big vote!

Sen. Amy Klobuchar

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Senator Amy Klobuchar recently announced she is running for Presidency on February 10, 2019. Senator Klobuchar is not openly for or against marijuana but instead focuses on other pressing topics. Senator Amy Klobuchar was the first woman elected to represent Minnesota in 2006 and has won re-election twice.

Marijuana Stance:

While marijuana is not a focus of Amy Klobuchar, she is not against significant reform. Senator Klobuchar has no cannabis bills herself, but she has signed four different pieces of legislation. Klobuchar was even one of the eight senators to send Jeff Sessions a letter asking for answers regarding the status of federally authorized marijuana manufacturers for research purposes.

However, Amy Klobuchar is one of the few who is not supporting the federal marijuana bill introduced by Corey Booker. Considering she is not backing the only federal marijuana reform bill, it is likely cannabis will not be a focus of her administration if elected.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren

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Senator Elizabeth Warren is a top presidential candidate at the time. She announced her candidacy on February 9, 2019 stating, “It won’t be enough to just undo the terrible acts of this administration.” Senator Warren looks to run on a platform that focuses on the major structural problems of our government. Nevertheless, she is a strong proponent for marijuana reform as well.

Marijuana Stance:

Elizabeth Warren is quite the marijuana candidate. At first, Senator Warren was not always for marijuana reform; however, she serves the people and as public opinion changed, so did her political view. Now, Warren is the lead sponsor of the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) ACT. She has also supported six other major marijuana bills and is openly supporting Senator Booker’s federal marijuana bill.

John Delaney

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John Delaney is a former U.S. Representative with quite the qualifications for the Presidency. Aside from his excellent track record as a representative, John Delaney is a leading proponent for marijuana reform. He announced his candidacy on August 10, 2017, which was rather early compared to other candidates.

Marijuana Stance:

Delaney is in favor of federal marijuana reform, and it shows in his history. While he has not introduced any marijuana bills himself, he has co-sponsored over six different major cannabis bills. In particular, John Delaney was an advocate for removing CBD from the Controlled Substances Act, clarifying banking regulations within marijuana, and the newly introduced federal marijuana bill. He recently voiced support for the federal government allowing states to make their own laws on cannabis, and he supports de-scheduling cannabis. It is likely Delaney would quickly push for marijuana reform if elected.

Kirsten Gillibrand

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand recently announced her candidacy on January 11, 2019. Her career began in the House in 2007 and found its way to the Senate in 2009 after Hillary Clinton left her seat. Gillibrand is a strong Presidential Candidate with a quite the backing.

Marijuana Stance:

Senator Gillibrand was not always a proponent of marijuana reform in. Gillibrand never sponsored or co-sponsored any cannabis-related bills. It is also known that Senator Gillibrand even voted against a floor amendment to protect state medical marijuana laws.

Now, Gillibrand is announcing her full support for Booker’s federal marijuana bill, H.R. 420.

Tulsi Gabbard

tulsi gabbard, rep from hawaii at an event
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Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is making moves this presidential election. Gabbard announced her candidacy on January 11, 2019. With her military background and experience in the Hawaii House, Tulsi Gabbard is a reliable presidential candidate. Aside from being, potentially, the first female president, Tulsi Gabbard is taking a historical stance towards marijuana reform.

Marijuana Stance:

Tulsi Gabbard is all for marijuana reform, and she is vocalizing her opinion. Gabbard even recently attended Joe Rogan’s Podcast to speak about marijuana and psychedelics in our nation. Aside from backing further marijuana reform, Gabbard was in support of legalizing industrial hemp, cannabis banking solutions, and marijuana research.

Julian Castro

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San Antonio’s Previous Mayor, Julian Castro, announced his presidential candidacy on January 12, 2019. While Castro was a popular Mayor at the time, he was also appointed the Housing and Urban Development Secretary during the Obama Administration. He is a qualified and passionate candidate with some big plans for our nation.

Marijuana Stance:

Julian Castro’s marijuana stance is somewhat limited compared to other candidates. Aside from assisting one marijuana policy action under the Obama Administration, he tends to refrain from discussing marijuana. Castro does speak out against pushing back on states with established marijuana laws, but that’s about as far as his marijuana stance goes. When it comes to federal marijuana reform, Julian Castro may not be the best Presidential Candidate.

Bernie Sanders

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A big name during the Democratic Primaries in 2016, Bernie Sanders is a strong supporter of progressive causes. Whether it’s climate change, income inequality, or racial injustice, Bernie makes his views known.

Marijuana Stance:

Bernie, a long-time Vermont representative, has said he supports federal marijuana legalization and passionately believes the war on drugs has disproportionately affected people of color. Bernie’s stance on marijuana is definitely pro-legalization.

Jay Inslee

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Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington, announced his bid for president on March 1st. The former Congressman has made it known that climate change is one of his main focuses.

Marijuana Stance:

He’s the governor of Washington, a state with legal recreational use, so marijuana reform is nothing new to him. In January 2019, he announced an initiative to grant clemency to individuals convicted of possession of small amounts of marijuana. Though marijuana reform won’t be one of his main focuses, he has been a vocal supporter of marijuana reform since he was elected governor in 2013.

Joe Biden

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Joe Biden announced his candidacy, and he was unsurprisingly met with mixed reactions. While other Democratic candidates have been extremely outspoken about marijuana reform, Biden hasn’t made it his main priority.

Marijuana Stance:

Biden’s history with drug reform doesn’t look too hot. Back in the 70s, he made it clear he wasn’t on board to legalize marijuana. He made similar comments opposing legalization through the years, even as recently as 2010. Rolling Stone did a great deep-dive into Biden and his unfavorable history with marijuana. He seems to be the least pro-marijuana Democratic candidate we’ve seen so far.

John Hickenlooper

john hickenlooper colorado democratic candidate
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While the former governor of Colorado isn’t the loudest advocate of the ever-growing bunch, he has come around to the idea of legalization. Colorado went legal during his time in office, but he wasn’t the one pushing for it. Now, looking back, he can see legalization hasn’t become the mess he thought it would.

Marijuana Stance:

Hickenlooper supports de-scheduling cannabis, supports Colorado’s move to legalize, and wants it to be studied more closely.

Michael Bennet

michael bennet office
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Senator Michael Bennet, another Coloradan, is also seeking the nomination. Like Hickenlooper, Bennet wasn’t fully on board with legalization at first, but has since supported more progressive cannabis bills.

Marijuana Stance:

Bennet is a supporter of cannabis reform and “cosponsored legislation to remove hemp from the definition of marijuana under the CSA twice…”

Tim Ryan

democratic candidate tim ryan
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Standing out amongst the sea of candidates can be difficult, and Tim Ryan has flown under the radar a bit. The Ohio Rep. has been around since 2003, and his history with cannabis is reassuring.

Marijuana Stance:

Looking at the history of Tim Ryan on marijuana, we can see he’s voted on a wide range of marijuana bills. Recently, the Marijuana Justice Act and SAFE Banking Act of 2019. He also supported removing hemp from the Controlled Substances Act back in 2015. He is a strong proponent of marijuana reform.

Pete Buttigieg

Pete buttigieg stance on marijuana legalization
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Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buggigieg, represents a state that still has strict cannabis laws. However, Buttigieg is in favor of federal legalization. His support stems from the racial injustice that has come with the enforcement of marijuana law, and he views it as an important issue.

Marijuana Stance:

He doesn’t have a rich voting history on marijuana issues, but he’s still a supporter of progressive marijuana law.

Bill DeBlasio 

bill de blasio democratic candidate
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Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio doesn’t have the most pro-marijuana record out there, and his state’s struggle to legalize have been well-publicized. Back in 2014, he did attempt to decrease the amount of marijuana-related arrests in the city by instructing the NYPD to issue summons (rather than making arrests) for marijuana possession of 25 grams or less. He announced his support for federal legalization in 2018.

Marijuana Stance:

Bill de Blasio’s marijuana stance was made clear in 2018 when he voiced support for legalizing marijuana in New York.

Beto O’Rourke

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An outpouring of love came his way after his loss to Ted Cruz in the 2018 race for the Texas Senate, but no one was sure if he was going to run for president. Today, he’s officially running and marijuana is at the forefront of his campaign.

Marijuana Stance:

O’Rourke was endorsed by NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law, during his 2018 Senate campaign, and he believes that we should end federal prohibition of marijuana. He’s a long-time supporter of drug reform, so his stance is no surprise.

 

President Trump Running for Re-Election

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Of course, Donald Trump announced his candidacy back in 2017. President Trump is going to run for re-election, and there is a strong chance he has the backing to win again. Not only has he kept his followers happy, but President Trump has the potential to be the marijuana president.

Even before Democrats could have a chance to run on the platform of legalizing marijuana, Trump could merely do it before the election. It would certainly help his campaign and popularity amongst certain opposition. He already legalized industrial hemp under the Hemp Farm Bill of 2018; why not just do it all?

The H.R. 420 Bill is in the House and has the chance to make its way into law. While the journey is just getting started, the discussion is finally open on a federal level. Many believe Trump will utilize this opportunity to legalize marijuana and go down in history as the “Marijuana President.

Nevertheless, Trump is more likely to legalize marijuana in this term rather than the following. The rewards of legalizing marijuana now are huge, but there is no rush if he is re-elected.

However, Trump has made some enemies throughout his term, and there is a chance he is not guaranteed the Republican Nomination.

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Other Potential Republican Candidates

The only Republican looking into running against President Trump, at the moment, is Bill Weld. He is a former Governor of Massachusetts that announced he formed an exploratory committee for the Presidency on February 15, 2019.

Bill Weld is a progressive Republican, considering his stance on marijuana reform. Not only is he in favor of Trump legalizing marijuana, but Weld is actually on the board of a top cannabis company, Acreage Holdings. From speaking at cannabis keynotes to publicly supporting the legalization of marijuana, Weld is for federal marijuana reform. In other words, it looks as if all announced Republican Candidates are likely to legalize marijuana!

Unofficial Candidates:

  • Mo Brooks
  • Bob Corker
  • Tom Cotton
  • Ted Cruz
  • Nikki Haley
  • Larry Hogan
  • John Kasich
  • Susana Martinez
  • Ben Sasse
  • Scott Walker

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Justice Council
Justice Council is a freelance writer, CBD specialist, and cannabis enthusiast located in Denver, Colorado. His wide range of experience as a budtender, delivery driver, and CBD sales rep has given him a unique look into this new world of cannabis. Throughout his career in the industry, Justice has written many pieces on culture, economics, product knowledge, and career opportunities within the cannabis space. He takes pride in being part of a truly pioneering industry.