The crowded field of 2020 Democratic candidates are widely divided on a number of issues – health care, criminal justice reform and corporate power, for starters – but when it comes to marijuana, most of them agree: It should be legalized.
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Marijuana legalization has become increasingly popular among Americans; according a Gallup poll from October, about 66 percent of respondents across regional, age and political party groups support legalizing pot.
Support for legalization in the U.S. has continued to grow (in 1969, for instance, only 12 percent of respondents told Gallup it should be made legal), and the race for the Democratic nomination reflects that trend.
Here’s a look at the stances on marijuana that Democratic candidates have taken so far:
Cory Booker: In February, the New Jersey senator -- and one of the leading voices in the race on criminal justice reform -- introduced the Marijuana Justice Act. That bill would not only legalize pot at the federal level, but allow people incarcerated on marijuana charges to petition for resentencing. The bill was co-signed by Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand, all of whom are running for president.
Kamala Harris: Although Harris opposed a ballot initiative to legalization recreational marijuana in California when she was serving as the state’s attorney general, she has since reversed course on the issue. During an interview on “The Breakfast Club” radio show, she said she supports legalization of the drug at the federal level. The California senator also said she smoked “a long time ago.”
Elizabeth Warren: The Massachusetts senator introduced a bipartisan bill in June called the STATES Act, which she filed in partnership with Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. The bill protects states that have legalized marijuana from federal interference and also addresses banking access issues for the industry. Warren has also said that she supports the federal legalization of marijuana.
Bernie Sanders: Sanders said he supports decriminalizing marijuana, largely because “too many lives are being destroyed” by the federal laws that regulate it. The Vermont independent has supported a number of bills to legalize marijuana, including Booker’s.
Kirsten Gillibrand: In February, the New York senator co-sponsored Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act -- the landmark legislation that would legalize marijuana. Gillibrand has said that current laws disproportionately hurt communities of color and low-income communities.
“Legalizing marijuana is a social justice issue and a moral issue that Congress needs to address,” she said.
Beto O’Rourke: O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, was an early backer of legalizing marijuana. He’s argued that making pot legal could weaken Mexican cartels, thereby reducing violence. As a U.S. House representative, he supported several marijuana policy reform bills.
Pete Buttigieg: Although the mayor of South Bend, Indiana hasn’t signed any legislation regarding legalizing marijuana, he’s said that he supports legalization.