The Democratic Party has always been slightly more open to marijuana legalization than Republicans, but they've still been hesitant to fully embrace the issue. But it appears Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to rescind protections for state's with legal cannabis may have finally motivated the Party to support the issue.
In the past month, several very prominent Democrats have come out and supported marijuana legalization and pledged to defend states from the Trump administration's possible crackdown. Just today New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced her support for fellow Senator Cory Booker's bill to legalize cannabis. This followed a recent move by Senator Bernie Sanders to send out an email petition calling on the federal government to end marijuana prohibition as well as the war on drugs.
Other prominent Democrats have come out and denounced Sessions' decision to change the Department of Justice's policy towards marijuana. Both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized Sessions last month.
This doesn't mean the party's totally unified on the issue. Senator Dianne Feinstein is one of the most powerful Democrats in Congress, and she remains opposed to legalization and has even voted against protecting states with legalized marijuana, despite representing the state of California. And the party chose Joe Kennedy III to speak for the party in response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union, a prominent role for another anti-legalization Democrat.
But the biggest thing that may push the party towards legalization is the 2020 election. Booker, Gillibrand and Sanders are all viewed as likely candidates for the Democratic nomination in 2020, and they all support marijuana legalization, as does Senator Elizabeth Warren. Another possible candidate, Senator Kamala Harris, has begun shifting her dialogue around the issue.
Polls show that over 70 percent of Democrats support marijuana legalization, and it seems the party is finally taking steps to embrace support on that issue. As the 2020 election gets closer, don't be surprised if the Democrats become the first party to openly support legalization at the national level.