2020 is a long time to wait, but that’s probably the earliest point before the legal Marijuana
industry could see any positive changes at the federal level. As my readers know, I firmly believe that third parties need more inclusion in the political process for this to happen. However, that is unlikely to occur anytime soon. Therefore, let’s examine the top potential Democratic Presidential hopefuls for 2020 and see their stances.
Senator Bernie Sanders (VT-I)
|(Flickr - Gage Skidmore)|
It seems unlikely that Sanders will get the Democratic nomination in 2020 even though he has the best shot at winning; he’s literally the most popular current politician in America. Sanders would have likely beaten Trump if he had received the nomination because he would have maintained the liberal base while receiving better voter turnout with the key demographics where Clinton was unpopular.
It’s no secret that the DNC worked behind the scenes to block Sanders from winning the nomination. In fact, my last column with The American Conservative detailed the current lawsuit filed by some of his supporters against the DNC. Long story short, the DNC hasn’t openly denied many of the accusations that their group tried to suppress his campaign. Hence, there’s no reason to believe that the DNC will show any support for him in the next election.
Most Likely Candidates
It looks like something akin to the Watergate scandal is in the works. Jimmy Carter was an obscure Governor from Georgia when that took place. (He also publicly supported decriminalization of possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, which was a bold political stance in the 1970s.) However, it seems unlikely that a Governor will receive the nomination because the news cycle is entirely focused on Trump.
There will probably be lengthy Congressional hearings and Democrats in related committees will get the face time that corresponds to votes. With that in mind, please note that James Garfield was the first and only sitting member of the House of Representatives to be elected President. Therefore, we’ll look at the most likely candidates currently serving in the U.S. Senate.
1 - Sen. Kamala Harris (CA)
This fast-rising politician has rapidly gained a ton of political momentum. She was elected last year to her first term in the U.S. Senate and she already serves on some influential Senate Committees, including Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs and the Intelligence Committee. Harris served as the Attorney General of California before heading to Capitol Hill and, like most prosecutors, she predictably sided with the special interests of the prison industrial complex. She waged a famous crusade against BackPage.com and has remained a strong supporter of civil asset forfeiture.
While serving as Attorney General in 2014, she literally laughedat the suggestion of legalizing recreational marijuana. However, Harris somewhat reversed course, but she isn’t in favor of legalization. Instead, she is now advocating for decriminalization, but her exact plan isn’t clear. In April of last year, she suggestedthat marijuana should only be changed from a Schedule I to Schedule II drug. Furthermore, as Tom Angell (Chairman of the Marijuana Majority) accurately points out, Kamala Harris continues referring to the drug war in the past tense as if it is a thing of the past.
2 - Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA)
Elizabeth Warren has strong name recognition and has developed a reputation as a tough banking regulator. As far as her views on marijuana, she has seemingly shifted to tepid support of legalization. Two years ago, when questioned about her state’s ballot initiative for recreational marijuana she told MassLive:
“I’m open to it. I think we’ve learned more. A couple of states have legalized marijuana for recreational use.”
That was a reversal from the past. She had been openly against legalizationand even attackeda rival Republican as late as 2013 for supporting Legal Recreational Marijuana. However, she’s now acting as an ally to the legal marijuana industry. She has publicly challenged Jeff Sessions to respect states’ rights and is working to create legal banking options for the industry.
3 - Sen. Cory Booker (NJ)
Booker has a high level of name recognition, particularly with young voters. He served as the Mayor of Newark before heading to the U.S. Senate in 2013. He’s quickly made a name for himself by being a very accessible media figure.
Of these three potential candidates, Booker has been by far the most courageous advocate of legal recreational marijuana. In fact, he sponsored the “Marijuana Justice Act,” SB 1689, which is hands down the most comprehensive and progressive marijuana legalization bill in U.S. history.
Here are a few highlights:
- Every person presently incarcerated for a marijuana offense would be eligible to have that sentence reversed.
- It would remove marijuana entirely from the controlled substance list.
- It would provide federal funds for states to change drug policies if they have incarcerated minorities and low-income individuals disproportionally.
- It would provide a “Community Reinvestment Fund” with job programs and several other benefits in cities that have been particularly affected by the drug war.
Suffice it say, this is an incredibly ambitious bill and it has absolutely no shot of being passed at this time. Nonetheless, it’s a positive development that proposals like this are beginning to be introduced to the electorate at large.