Entrepreneur and 2020 presidential hopeful Andrew Yang might have just secured a new block of voters after telling a crowd in New Hampshire on Friday that he will “mass pardon” people who are currently in prison for charges related to nonviolent marijuana-related offenses.
His promise came as he spoke at an event that was sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, according to Fox News.
“Americans now recognize just how broken our mass incarceration system is and how much progress we need to make,” Yang said.
Yang has also promoted legalizing marijuana on a federal level as part of his presidential campaign, citing benefits such as new revenue streams and improvements to safety and social equity. The move would also include removing the drug from the controlled-substances list, according to The Hill.
This isn’t the first time Yang has captured headlines for his mass pardon promise. In April, Yang first presented the idea of freeing those who are serving time for marijuana-related offenses
Speaking at the National Action Network in April, Yang told the audience, “I would legalize marijuana and then I would pardon everyone who’s in jail for a nonviolent drug-related offense.”
Doubling down, Yang gave a specific date of the mass pardon, should he win the presidency.
“I would pardon them on April 20, 2021 and I would high-five them on the way out of jail,” he said.
In May, Yang reminded his Twitter followers that he would stick to his promise, saying “Instead of pardoning billionaires I’d pardon non-violent marijuana and opiate offenders.”
— The Hill (@thehill) August 17, 2019
The topic of marijuana legalization is a potentially hot one as 2020 nears, with several other Democratic candidates offering relief for those convicted on nonviolent charges as more states pass legislation legalizing the drug. So far, 11 states have legalized recreational marijuana, with 33 states legalizing medicinal use of the drug.
Gov. Jay Inslee, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, issued thousands of pardons for residents of Washington who were serving time on low-level possession charges.
Yang, who rose in the polls after the first two Democratic presidential debates, has also managed to establish a niche following who call themselves the “Yang Gang.”
The candidate, who is still seen as a long-shot for winning the Democratic primary, snagged two-percent support in specific polls and met the other required qualifications set by the Democratic National Committee that earned him a spot in the third debate, according to The New York Times.
Yang’s campaign cornerstone is his proposal for a universal basic income that his website calls “The Freedom Dividend.” The program would give every American adult over the age of 18 a $1,000 income every month.