In 2016, legalizing marijuana was a huge issue amongst presidential candidates. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders mentioned it occasionally during his campaign, while former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supported the lesser step of removing pot from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
Fast forward to 2019 and you’ll quickly notice that things have changed. Nearly every major Democratic contender for the 2020 nomination has come out in support of legalizing marijuana at the federal level, and several candidates have gone even further, proposing expunging non-violent marijuana convictions and investing in communities harmed by the War on Drugs.
There is one exception however, former Vice President Joe Biden.
“It’s really an anomaly in the history of presidential politics in this country to have almost all the major Democratic candidates coming out for legalization,” says Erik Altieri, executive director of National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which supports legalization. “Basically, everyone except for Joe Biden is pretty good on this.”
Although Bernie Sanders was the firsr canditate do bring up marijuana legalization during his regular speeches back in 2016, the 2020 candidates are not far behind. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has co sponsored a bill with Republican Sen. Cory Gardner to protect state legalization efforts and has mentioned during her campaign that the is in favor of nationwide legalization. Sen. Kamala Harris once opposed a 2010 California initiative to regulate and tax recreational marijuana, now favors nationwide legalization as well. Just recently, Sen. Kirsten Gellibrand unveiled her plan to legalize marijuana, which includes taxing legal cannabis and helping small businesses in black and Hispanic communities.
While we can’t predict who will win the 2020 election, chances are that some big changes are ahead regarding legalizing marijuana.