November 3 of next year is marked for the presidential elections in the USA. With the increasing number of states in America giving the green light at least to medical cannabis, and some fully legalizing it, many are curious whether or not the next president will advance the matter on a federal level. At this point in time there are a lot of names in the race for the White House – 19 of which Democrats and 4 Republicans – so let us take a look at what some of them think about legalizing cannabis.
Current president Donald Trump has generally strayed away from giving a definitive stance. Back in 2016 he answered a question about legalizing marijuana with the words “I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state” while admitting that “Marijuana is such a big thing”. However, his administration hasn’t done much to advance cannabis legislation, and with some of them openly supporting anti-cannabis policies, we shouldn’t expect major changes in the case Trump gets reelected.
There are three other candidates running on the side of the Republican party, alongside D. Trump. Mark Sanford hasn’t really expressed support for marijuana legalization on federal level, but has been holding on his principles of federalism; Sanford has always been supportive of states choosing on their own what to do about cannabis. Joe Walsh supported Trump back in 2016, but has been a huge critic of the president’s work ever since. In the last two years Walsh has repeatedly shown through social media his support for full legalization. A popular quote of his is “If you can drink a beer at 21, you should be able to smoke weed at 21.” The last name, William F. Weld, also has expressed his positive attitude towards legalization of cannabis. Back in 2016 he praised the Canadian government for legalizing it nationally. In his opinion, this process will inevitably repeat itself in the USA and “no politician is going to be able to stop it.”
With 19 names on the side of the Democrats in the running, we’ll take a look only at the most notable ones. Speaking in general, most democrats are in favor of full federal legalization of marijuana. Joe Biden, former vice-president, is a bit of an exception – he does support decriminalization, but not legalization for recreational use. The opinion of Biden is that more definitive research on the matter is needed. At this point in time he does acknowledge the positive results of medical cannabis. Elizabeth Warren shares common stance with her colleague, despite opposing cannabis in the past. While in some people’s opinion her change in mindset is mainly for gaining votes, as a senator Warren has co-sponsored three bills aimed at providing banking access to marijuana businesses.
Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, has a long-standing history of being pro-cannabis, dating back to the 1990s. For twenty years he has been speaking of legalization, and without a doubt he will continue with the respective actions if elected. Andrew Yang looks like a wildcard in this race. Being quite younger than the other candidates, with not much political background, he still found a way to become a popular candidate, with huge online following. Yang has shared publicly many times his pro-cannabis policy. A remarkable quote of his goes like this: “I would legalize cannabis and then I would pardon everyone who’s in jail for a nonviolent drug-related offense. I would pardon them on April 20, 2021 and I would high-five them on the way out of jail.”
In conclusion, it looks like cannabis legalization will be a frequent talking point in the presidential candidates’ debates. It’s hard to predict how much pro- or anti-cannabis policy will affect their votes at the end, but the possibility for full federal legalization in the foreseeable future is certainly increasing.
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