We are entering a new decade with greater support than ever for cannabis legalization. As of the start of 2020, cannabis is legal in 33 states for medical use and in 11 states and Washington, D.C. for adult use, leaving the federal government and Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota maintaining cannabis’ illegal status.
Between two-thirds of Americans reportedly supporting cannabis legalization, and President Trump’s December 2019 assertion that medical cannabis states are not protected against interference from federal law enforcement, it’s no wonder cannabis has become a key issue in the 2020 presidential election. In this post, we take a look and where the major presidential candidates stand on the subject.
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senior Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was one of the co-sponsors of the STATES Act, bipartisan legislation that would exempt those in compliance with state cannabis laws from federal enforcement under the Controlled Substances Act. While she appears to support federal cannabis legalization, unlike many other candidates, Senator Klobuchar has yet to take a firm position on cannabis under the broader lens of criminal justice reform.
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang
In addition to supporting federal cannabis legalization, Andrew Yang’s marijuana policy prioritizes the development of industry regulation and oversight, while also offering justice to those convicted for use or possession under federal law. If elected, Yang says he will remove cannabis from The Controlled Substances Act, expunge past convictions, and activate probation and potential early release for select non-violent drug offenders.
Senator Bernie Sanders
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is a strong proponent of cannabis legalization. He recently co-sponsored both the Marijuana Justice Act and the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, two pieces of legislation centering on the removal of cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances. Senator Sanders’ plan includes legalizing cannabis through executive action within the first 100 days of his presidency, vacating and expunging past cannabis-related convictions, reinvesting revenue from legal cannabis back into those communities most impacted by the drug war, and putting structures in place to ensure that legal cannabis doesn’t turn into Big Tobacco.
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren demonstrated her support for cannabis legalization when she introduced the bipartisan STATES Act in cooperation with Senator Cory Gardner in 2018. She also co-sponsored both the Marijuana Justice Act and the MORE Act, and in addition to legalizing cannabis at the federal level, Senator Warren includes expunging cannabis convictions as part of her plan for comprehensive criminal justice reform.
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden has a history of supporting cannabis prohibition and tough anti-drug law enforcement throughout his political career. He came under fire for labeling cannabis as a “gateway drug” in 2019, and recently reaffirmed that he won’t support legalization until there has been further study into its potential health risks. Vice President Biden does, however, support decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level, expunging prior convictions, and moving cannabis to the list of Schedule 2 controlled substances.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg supports federal legalization as part of his overall criminal justice reform plan. In addition to expunging past cannabis convictions, Mayor Buttigieg will reinvest tax revenue earned from legal cannabis back into communities most impacted by the war on drugs, and create programs that foster entrepreneurship within the legal cannabis industry for those convicted of cannabis crimes.
Billionaire/Philanthropist Tom Steyer
While Tom Steyer has voiced support for legalization, his stance on cannabis has primarily centered on resolving the industry’s banking issues. Referencing his experience with starting a community bank, Steyer has emphasized changing federal law so that banks serving cannabis businesses won’t lose their federal insurance.
Hear what industry professionals and experts think about the 2020 presidential candidates at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Northeast Cannabis Business Conference. Formerly Seed to Sale Show, #NECannaBizCon invites you to explore the latest regional insights, discover emerging business opportunities, and broaden your East Coast network at the industry’s only true B2B cannabis trade show focusing on the Northeast market. Meet with NCIA members, entrepreneurs, policymakers, industry leaders, and services providers on 40,000 square feet of expo floor. It happens February 19-20, 2020 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center. Registration is now open!