You only have to go back 20 years, and you will find yourself in a country that has cannabis banned in all 50 states. It’s taken a long time, but it seems that the U.S. society is finally lifting the veil on the stigma of cannabis use, both recreationally and medicinally.
Cannabis Federal Law and Cannabis State Law
Since the 1930s, federal law has declared the use, sale, and distribution of cannabis to be illegal. This is upheld by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which is what classifies and regulates illegal substances in the USA.
It may come as a surprise to learn that even if the cannabis state law in your particular area is legalized, it is still a federal crime. This contradiction is confusing to some people and creates tension and unease for some cannabis users in legalized states.
It seems bizarre that you can stroll down to your nearest marijuana dispensary in a legalized state, such as California, buy some cannabis without a care in the world, all the while you are committing a federal crime.
2020 Presidential Election’s Candidates
It is for this reason that cannabis has become a hot topic in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Should it be decriminalized federally, should it remain illegal, or should it be left to the individual states to decide? Here is where some of the leading candidates stand on the matter.
Never one to shy away from controversy, Donald Trump has been relatively mixed with his opinions on the legalization of cannabis. Although one thing he has remained consistent on is his support for the use of medical marijuana.
During his last presidential campaign, he said that he would allow each state to choose whether or not they legalize cannabis. Unfortunately, during his administration, he did not quite stick to his word, rescinding the Cole memo shortly after assuming his presidency.
With that being said, Trump is on board with medical marijuana legalization as well as giving states the option to legalize cannabis and implement their own policies.
He has stated that he will sign the STATES act which will subsequently amend the Controlled Substances Act, removing cannabis from the banned substances list and decriminalizing it federally. Whether he follows through with that or not remains to be seen.
Andrew Yang has made his stance on this subject well known. He is entirely for the legalization of cannabis, both medically and recreationally. He acknowledges the gray area around the topic and has stated that he wants to “resolve the ambiguity” around cannabis legalization.
He even went as far as saying that the federal criminalization of cannabis was “stupid and racis,” claiming that he would expunge those currently locked behind bars for non-violent cannabis-related crimes and would “high-five them on their way out of jail.”
Tulsi Gabbard has always been vocal with her support for major marijuana reform. She has been an advocate for the federal decriminalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational use.
She backs up her words with her actions – since she assumed her position back in 2013, she has always voted in favor of pro-marijuana amendments.
She has made her intentions clear on more than one occasion, so it is safe to assume that if Tulsi Gabbard was elected President in 2020 that she would follow through with her comments and push to legalize cannabis federally.
As time has gone on, Elizabeth Warren has adjusted her stance on cannabis legalization, and over the recent years, she has become increasingly pro-cannabis.
She is now the lead sponsor on the STATES Act. The STATES Act (Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States) is a bill that will allow each state to make up their own mind on the legality of cannabis.
Each state will be able to implement its own policies without any interference from a federal level, which would be a big step.
Elizabeth Warren is clearly for the decriminalization of cannabis on both a medical and recreational level, but this does not mean that she is 100% for legalization – which remains to be seen.
Similar to Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bennet has slowly changed his stance on marijuana legalization and is now firmly on board with reforming the federal marijuana laws.
He has backed the STATES act and has co-sponsored several cannabis reform bills – backing up his statements about being pro-cannabis on a recreational and medicinal basis.
He has been particularly vocal about the importance of allowing states to implement their own laws regarding cannabis and decriminalization on a federal level.
All it takes is one read of Marianna Williamson’s 2020 campaign website, and it is clear to see her stance on the topic of cannabis legalization.
She claims that she will call for “immediate federal legalization of cannabis and amnesty for all non-violent offenders serving prison sentences for marijuana-related crimes.”
Williamson even goes as far as outlining what she would do with the tax revenue generated from cannabis legalization, claiming that she would promote funding into universal health care, free college tuition, and student loan forgiveness.
When Mike Bloomberg was the mayor of New York City, he was famously opposed to the legalization of cannabis, it seems that since then not much has changed. He vehemently expressed his distaste of medicinal cannabis use, claiming that “medical marijuana is one of the “greatest hoaxes of all time” – a strong statement.
It is safe to say he is completely against the medical and recreational use of marijuana. He even goes as far as publicly condemning the legalization of marijuana in several ways, including claims that cannabis is responsible for lowering I.Q levels in children.
Swalwell has been an advocate for marijuana reform since he assumed his role in office in 2013. At almost every opportunity given, he has voted towards cannabis reform in favor of pro-cannabis amendments.
He has repeatedly stated that he supports decriminalization at a federal level and that it would be best for each state to implement its own laws without federal involvement.
On top of that, Swalwell has highlighted numerous times the potential benefits of medical marijuana use and admits that he has family members who use the drug for medicinal purposes.
According to Swalwell, legalizing cannabis is “the right, responsible thing to do.”