Sen. Michael Bennet threw his hat into the crowded ring of Democratic presidential candidates this morning. According to The Denver Post, Bennet had planned to announce his run in April - but a prostate cancer diagnosis delayed these plans. Happily, Bennet is now cancer-free following surgery.
In an interview with CBS This Morning, Sen. Bennet said "I think this country faces two enormous challenges, one is a lack of economic mobility and opportunity for most Americans and the other is the need to restore integrity to our government.”
Bennet has held the position of US Senator from the state of Colorado since 2009. Of course, he isn’t the only Colorado Democrat in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Two months ago, former Colorado Gov. George Hickenlooper - who served as governor of Colorado when the state legalized cannabis in 2012 - also put his name forward as a candidate. Interestingly, Hickenlooper and Bennet have a long history together; Bennet served as the governor's chief of staff for a time.
So where does Bennet stand on cannabis? On a 2016 Colorado Scorecard by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Sen. Bennet recieved a solid B+ grade.
Unlike Gov. Hickenlooper, who has mixed feelings on cannabis legalization, Bennet has been outspoken in his support of several cannabis initiatives. In February 2019, Bennet co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act alongside Sens. Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and others. In a statement at the time, Sen. Bennet wrote that “it’s past time we bring fairness and relief to communities that our criminal justice system has too often left behind.”
Last year, Bennet slammed reports that the Trump administration had assembled a committee of members from various departments to counteract support for legal cannabis. In a letter, Sen. Bennet had this to say:
“At a time when we should be investing in objective and peer-reviewed scientific research on marijuana and the effects of legalization, the White House is instead using taxpayer money to spread a politically-driven narrative. What’s perhaps most unfortunate is that my state and others stand ready to work as partners with the federal government to gather the data and research necessary to ensure we are protecting public health and safety.”
He has also pressed for legislation that would allow cannabis businesses to access banking services, introducing the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2017 alongside fellow Colorado Senator Cory Gardner (R). He reintroduced the act this year.
It’s anyone’s guess how Sen. Bennet will fare in this, the most crowded Democratic presidential slate in history. But his record shows that he has been a solid ally to the cannabis industry that grew from his state.