Many 2020 presidential candidates have announced their support for federal-level cannabis reform, but few have outlined exactly how they would make that happen. New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) says she has a plan.
In an op-ed published in Medium on Wednesday, Gillibrand said federal marijuana reform would be "a top priority" should she be elected to the Oval Office, and she outlined exactly how she plans move ahead with cannabis legalization in the US.
"As president, I will immediately deschedule marijuana as a controlled substance, and start working to not only heal the damage done by racist drug laws, but tap into the medical and economic opportunity that legal marijuana offers," Gillibrand wrote.
Gillibrand said that, under her leadership, a taxed and regulated marketplace for cannabis products will be put in place, with tax revenues being used to "help repair the damage done by the War on Drugs." Cannabis businesses can also expect to have equal and fair access to banking services, and a focus will be put on developing "women- and minority-owned businesses."
Funding for medical cannabis research would be increased and Medicare, Medicaid and the VA would all be required to cover medical marijuana prescriptions.
Additionally, "all non-violent marijuana convictions" would be wiped from individuals' criminal records.
Gillibrand went on to admit that while the harm done by the War on Drugs can never be erased, at least her plan would ensure things are better moving forward.
"Nothing proposed today can ever undo the devastating harm done to generations of communities and families of color by the War on Drugs. But it’s long past time to start making this right. With this plan, we can begin to dismantle the institutional racism in our criminal justice system, open up important new medical and economic horizons, and lift up communities who need and deserve a fair shot at opportunity."
Laying out this plan was an important move for Gillibrand if she wants to be considered the people's cannabis legalization pick. While many of her rivals—like Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)—have previously filed legalization bills with Congress, she has not. That meant that until now her rivals had much clearer legalization plans than Gillibrand.
All in all, Gillibrand's plan further cements her position as a cannabis-friendly candidate who seems willing to tackle many of the issues associated with the failed War on Drugs.