The fight for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2020 is intensifying as another contender has entered the fray. On Friday, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii announced her candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination.
"I have decided to run and will be making a formal announcement within the next week," Rep. Gabbard told CNN in an interviewed that aired during Saturday's episode of "The Van Jones Show."
Gabbard is an Iraq War veteran who is also the first Hindu and the first American Samoan member of Congress. And if she gets elected, she would become a powerful ally in the fight for marijuana reform.
Last fall, Gabbard criticized the federal government for obstructing marijuana reform at the expense of thousands of American lives that have been lost to the opioid epidemic.
“There are states that have legalized, whether it’s just medical or full legalization, there has proven to be a direct correlation to a drastic reduction in opioid-related deaths in those states where people have access,” Rep. Gabbard said during an appearance on 'The Joe Rogan Experience. “If we know this, and every one of the leaders in this country are so concerned about this opioid epidemic, why hasn’t this been brought forward?”
For her part, Gabbard has tried to bring the issue forward by teaming up with Virginia Congressman Tom Garrett (R) in 2017 to introduce the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act to Congress.
"Our current laws are turning everyday Americans into criminals, sending them to jail, ruining their lives, tearing apart families and wasting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate people for marijuana use — a drug that has been proven time and time again to be far less dangerous than alcohol, both for individual consumers as well as for the people around them," Rep. Gabbard said while introducing the bill.
"So whether you personally think that marijuana use is good or bad, whether you would choose to use marijuana or not, the question is, should we really be sending people to jail and turning them into criminals for it? The answer is no," she added. "The fiscal impacts, the social impacts of our current policy, are having devastating ripple effects on individuals and our communities and are only continuing to perpetuate the problem."
Despite those solid arguments, the bill did not advance beyond getting referred to congressional committee. But that hasn't stopped Gabbard from fighting for reform. Over the past year, she has combatted federal rules and regulations that prevent veterans from getting access to medical marijuana.
For these reasons, Gabbard is undoubtedly the most outspoken supporter of marijuana reform to enter the 2020 race thus far. But there's still plenty of time for other candidates to embrace the issue as primary season draws closer.