John Delaney, presidential candidate for the Democratic party, was an early bidder for the nomination. In fact, the former Maryland Representative officially announced his candidacy nearly two years ago in July of 2017 – long before any other Democrat frontrunner.
The former representative, like many other candidates from his party, is a proven supporter of marijuana reform at the federal level. While he did not introduce any cannabis bills himself, he did support several that were introduced into Congress by his colleagues.
As a Maryland Congressman, serving from 2013 to 2019, Delaney co-sponsored seven cannabis related bills, including three calling for the removal of CBD from the Controlled Substances Act, two to shield banks working with marijuana businesses from federal penalties, one protecting individuals participating in state-legal marijuana activities from federal interference, and another protecting patients in medical cannabis states.
The candidate consistently voted in favour of House floor votes calling for federal cannabis reform, including an amendment to allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical cannabis to veterans, which he voted in favour of for three consecutive years (2014-2016). He also voted for four separate amendments intended to legalize industrial hemp, and supported an additional amendment that would allow banks to work with marijuana businesses without federal interference.
Despite consistently voting in favour of reform, Delaney hasn’t made many public statements on cannabis.
Early in his career, back in 2013, the congressman responded to an inquiry from the Daily Kos, stating that “while federal, state, and local laws pertaining to marijuana do lead to criminal justice costs, there is also a risk that decriminalization or legalization might further exacerbate these costs.”
Since then, it seems his approach to cannabis has softened, however.
He told the Boston Globe in February of 2019 that the current marijuana policy has “contributed to a criminal justice system where people of color are disproportionately harmed.” Then, later that month, he responded to a C-SPAN caller that he was “clearly supportive of medical marijuana. I think everyone should have it available to them as prescribed by their doctor. So, to me that’s a fairly straightforward issue.”
Delaney has never publicly commented on whether or not he has ever personally consumed cannabis.
Under a Delaney presidency, it would be optimistic to expect an outspoken leader on cannabis reform, but, given his proven track record for voting in favour of marijuana legislation, we could see some support for change in the current federal policy with the former congressman in the Oval Office.