The Pro (And Anti) Cannabis Politicians for 2020 Election

Matt Weeks April 22, 2019 2 comments

Let’s pay attention this time, shall we?

Cannabis reform is quickly becoming a major issue in the 2020 election. States with recreational cannabis laws have seen their tax revenues jump and their industries revitalize. And, as support for legalization continues to rise in America, more and more politicians are courting voters with pledges of common sense policies.

So here’s a handy guide to who’s who among the political set, from Beto to Bernie and everyone in between.

Joe Biden, 47th Vice President of the United States

While many people across the country have a lot of love for the former vice president, recent controversies have made some of his former supporters uncomfortable. For one, his involvement in the Anita Hill hearings – and his less than satisfactory ‘apology’ to her decades later – have caused some voters to hesitate. But importantly for the cannabis community, Joe Biden has been less than accepting of the cannabis reform. Though he doesn’t believe government resources should be spent on cannabis convictions, he’s been against cannabis reform throughout his political career.

Cory Booker, Democratic Senator from New Jersey

The former mayor of Trenton is about as pro-pot as they come. And he’s not just talking a big game.

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Booker has the distinction of authoring one of the country’s more progressive pro-cannabis legislation packages. The Marijuana Justice Act, which Booker introduced in 2017, would have done much more than simply legalize cannabis. It sought to rectify decades of bad public policy by expunging the records of prisoners held on cannabis charges and penalizing states that do not pass better cannabis laws.

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Cory Booker on the Capitol Steps

Ahead of the 2020 election, Booker is the man with the (weed) plan. He’s been a staunch defender of cannabis rights for a long time, and his ideas extend past simply righting the course. He wants to undo some of the damage our nation’s reefer madness has caused.

Kamala Harris, Democratic Senator from California

The former prosecutor is pro-pot legalization these days, but it hasn’t always been this way. As recently as 2010, she was against legalization because of the harm she thought it caused to communities.

CNN notes that Harris’ evolution on cannabis policy may come less from personal beliefs than her change in jobs from top cop to lawmaker. Or it could be that it just hasn’t been a priority for her.

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Bernie Sanders, Democratic Socialist Senator from Vermont

Perhaps they should call him “Burn”-ie Sanders with the way Sanders has consistently advocated for pro-cannabis policies. Back in 1995, when President Bill Clinton was sticking by his “I didn’t inhale” story, Sanders was sponsoring medical cannabis legislation in the U.S. Senate.

Since then, he’s only gotten more progressive on the issue. He signed onto Booker’s 2017 cannabis bill, and has strongly and repeatedly called for cannabis legalization, and an end to the racist policies fueling the War on Drugs. In 2016, the Vermont senator made history by becoming the first major candidate in American history to call for the removal of cannabis from the list of controlled substances.

Sanders is also a front-runner for the Democratic nomination in the 2020 election. Even if he’s not the final nominee, there’s a good chance his stance will be too popular to ignore by the eventual victor.

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Bernie Sanders on the campaign trail

Pete Buttigieg, Democratic Mayor of South Bend, Indiana

Mayor Pete Buttigieg (pronounced “BOOT-edge-edge) is the early Cinderella story of the 2020 election. A 37-year-old Navy veteran and Harvard alumnus, he’s the gay, Christian left-winger that America didn’t know it needed. But with his dark horse status comes a lot of questions.

Buttigieg hasn’t articulated a definitive stand on cannabis, but has said he supports pushing for legalization and has admitted to using cannabis during his college years in Boston.

Beto O’Rourke, Former Democratic Representative of Texas

O’Rourke was a bit mealy mouthed on the topic of cannabis when he took on Republican Senator and possible Zodiac Killer Ted Cruz in 2018. But that was in pot-hostile Texas, and it’s possible that he was running to the right.

For the record, O’Rourke was never bad on pot. He called for an end to federal prohibition and for the expunging of criminal records for pot offenders. That’s good. But it wasn’t exactly what he wanted. He referred to this plan as the “least bad” way to deal with the problem.

Kristin Gillibrand, Democratic Senator from New York

A reliably liberal vote in the Senate despite starting her career as a conservative, Gillibrand has long been against current pot policy. Like all the other Democratic contenders, she is in favor of legalization for medical purposes.

She’s also shown that she’s thought about the issue by calling for investigations into Big Pharma’s role in the opioid crisis. She interprets cannabis reform as a common-sense bit of public policy, which it is. So while she’s not fanning the flames of revolution, she’s level-headed and no-nonsense about updating the laws.

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Via Daily Wire; Kristin Gillibrand

Donald Trump, Republican President of the United States

Like a lot of issues, Trump is not as hard to pin down on cannabis policy as people claim. Although he’s claimed to be in favor of states’ rights to legalize, his actions speak otherwise.

His first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, undid an Obama-era policy that helped the fledgling legalized pot industry gain steam. The president’s first press secretary is also on record articulating Trump’s anti-pot stances.

Although he surrounds himself with indictable politicians, Trump positions himself as a law-and-order Republican — a group for whom pot has been a massive public problem that requires further prohibition.

The 2020 election will, of course, be about more than cannabis policy. But the issue may be a good litmus test of how far a politician is willing to push this country in a new and more prosperous direction.

Author avatar

Matt Weeks

A writer living and working in Athens, GA, Matt's work has appeared in various newspapers, books, magazines and online publications over the last 15 years. When he's not writing, he hosts bar trivia, plays in local bands, and makes a mean guacamole. He holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and a master's degree in organizational theory. His favorite movie is "Fletch."

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  1. As a Republican, I am once again disappointed in the movement and made to feel unwelcome in it by someone taking cheap shots at those I support. Legalization is NOT partisan. Several Republican legislatures and governors have voted to legalize in their own states, and President Trump (speaking for himself) has said he would support some legalization legislation. So why are we criticizing him?

    • Jennifer Grant

      The article is speaking to the position on cannabis for 2020 candidates. It’s not meant to be criticism. It’s true that President Trump promised to support changes. Perhaps he will get around to that before the end of his presidency in 2020. One can hope.