Here’s Where The 2020 Democratic And Republican Presidential Candidates Stand On Marijuana Legalization

All of them want it legalized federally, one way or the other.

a person holding a marijuana pipe and a lighter
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All of them want it legalized federally, one way or the other.

With more and more states legalizing marijuana, whether for medical or recreational use, marijuana remains illegal as a matter of federal law. Every 2020 Democratic presidential candidate wants to change that, Yahoo News reports, although with varying degrees of legalization.

A Schedule I Controlled Substance

Officially, marijuana remains on the federal government’s Schedule I list of controlled substances, which essentially means that, as far as the feds are concerned, it’s no more beneficial than crack or meth, and should be treated as such.

That also means that, for all of the states that have legalized marijuana recreationally or medicinally, they haven’t actually legalized it at all. The position of the federal government, since the Obama administration, has been one of not interfering with states’ marijuana programs, as long as certain conditions, such as keeping it out of the hands of children, are met. However, according to the letter of the law, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) could, legally, raid every last “legal” marijuana dispensary in each of the 33 states where it’s “legal,” and lock up the employees and customers.

That’s unlikely to happen, of course, but it’s still the letter of the law.

The Extremes

Joe Biden is the least progressive of the crowded 2020 field of Democratic contenders when it comes to pot legalization. He wants to see marijuana removed from Schedule I, but he wants the states to be able to make the decisions on legalization for themselves. Effectively, Biden wants to codify into law the quasi-legal situation that’s in place now when it comes to state legalization efforts.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, on the other hand, wants to not only legalize marijuana on the federal level, he wants to decriminalize all drugs.

Somewhere In The Middle

The remainder of the candidates fall somewhere in the middle of the two extremes, although all are basically in favor of full federal legalization.

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Several, for example, are actually already in a position to affect federal legalization, due to their roles as senators, and indeed, have already moved forward with federal legalization. Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Michael Bennett are all co-sponsors of a Senate bill that would not only legalize marijuana federally, it would expunge the criminal records of people convicted of marijuana offenses, and create a reinvestment fund to aid communities hurt by the War on Drugs.

The Republicans

Donald Trump, the incumbent Republican president, who, by all accounts, is unlikely to face a serious challenge for his party’s nomination, doesn’t appear to have marijuana legalization on his radar. Though he’s, so far, continued the Obama administration policy of non-interference, he otherwise hasn’t said or done much one way or the other when it comes to pot legalization.

Bill Weld, on the other hand, fully supports full federal legalization, according to Boston.com. Similarly, Joe Walsh, according to Marijuana Moment, has repeatedly condemned marijuana prohibition as well.