As the oldest candidate in the fight for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel, 89, is arguably the longest of long shots. But he's also one of the most progressive candidates when it comes to the issue of cannabis.
If you've heard of Gravel, then you're probably more familiar with his fervent anti-war stance than his beliefs on marijuana reform. And that's fair enough when you consider that, unlike many of the top Democratic candidates, Gravel doesn't have his name on any federal legalization bills that have been submitted to Congress recently.
But he does have a bizarre campaign video calling to "end the War on Drugs" in which Gravel argues that former President Richard Nixon launched the drug war in order "to punish the black people and ... the anti-war group" (A claim that has been corroborated by John Ehrlichman - Nixon's former Domestic Policy Chief.)
Cannabis legalization isn't a new issue for Gravel either. It was actually part of his platform when he ran for president back in 2008, when supporting marijuana reform was very much a controversial issue. Back then, only 12 states allowed medical marijuana and none had legalized recreational cannabis. So Gravel was far ahead of his time.
And his cannabis stance hasn't changed much since then. Gravel supports the repeal of federal prohibition and the creation of a regulated retail market for cannabis. While that position has remained the same, Gravel's involvement in the industry has changed quite a bit over the intervening years.
In 2014, Gravel became the CEO of a company that produces cannabis products for both the medicinal and recreational markets. In an interview with Huffington Post, Gravel said one of the reasons he took the position was because he felt "very deeply about the failure that is marijuana prohibition." That makes Gravel the only contender for the Democratic Party's 2020 nomination that has actually worked in the cannabis industry.
Gravel's vocal opposition of the War on Drugs, and his history of campaigning on the issue mean that a Gravel presidency is likely to be a very marijuana-friendly one.
But don't expect that to happen. Gravel's chances of winning the Democratic nomination are extremely slim, and he's just fine with that. "I don't want to be president, I'm too old," Gravel told Vice recently.
So why is he running if he's not interested in winning? Gravel just wants to get onstage during the debates in order to push fellow candidates toward more progressive stances in key issues that concern or appeal to young voters, like wiping out student debt and abolishing ICE. That's why his campaign team is full of teenagers hoping to disrupt the political system by getting Gravel into the primaries. But first, they need to find 65,000 donors in order for Gravel to qualify for the debate.
You can find out more about the candidate and his unorthodox campaign in this clip.