4 Ways 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates Differ in Their Marijuana Views

There are currently nine “major” Democrats running for the 2020 presidential election (at least according to Wikipedia) and a bunch of lesser candidates with no chance. Throw in people like Joe Biden, Beto O’Rourke and Bernie Sanders who haven’t announced their plans yet, and that number could get much higher. And pretty much all of them say they are in favor of marijuana legalization. So if they all support legalization, there’s no differences in their views, right? Well, not exactly.

Here are four ways 2020 Democratic presidential candidates differ in their views on marijuana:

1. Klobuchar Doesn’t Support Descheduling Bills

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is the latest candidate to join the race. While she does have a history supporting marijuana issues, she has not co-sponsored Senator Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, which would deschedule cannabis and expunge old marijuana convictions. Booker himself is a 2020 candidate, and the other major candidates running in 2020 (Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Kamala Harris) have all co-sponsored his bill.

2. Gillibrand and Harris aren’t Fans of the STATES Act

Last spring Massachusetts Senator and now 2020 candidate Elizabeth Warren co-wrote the STATES Act, a bill that would protect states that legalize marijuana from federal government intervention. Obviously Warren supports the bill, and she’s joined by fellow 2020 candidates Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar. However Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Kamala Harris have not co-sponsored her bill. It’s possible they think a more wider-reaching bill is necessary, or maybe they just don’t want to help support a bill created by Warren.

3. Marijuana History

The biggest way the Democratic candidates differ in marijuana is their history on it. Harris, Warren, Gillibrand and Klobuchar only really began supporting marijuana-related issues in the last few years, coinciding with their runs for president. Cory Booker has consistently supported and proposed bills to expand marijuana reform since joining the Senate, although he did express skepticism for recreational marijuana during his time as Mayor of Newark. Bernie Sanders, who has not announced his candidacy, is really the only candidate who has support cannabis reform throughout his entire political career.

4. Silence

There are a few Democrats running for president who have not announced their support for legalization, but also have not said they’re in favor of keeping it illegal. Former San Antonio Mayor and HUD Secretary Julián Castro has spoken against the Trump administration cracking down on states with legal cannabis, but he hasn’t discussed the issue other than that. And South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has said nothing about the issue.


For cannabis enthusiasts living in adult use states, long gone are the days of sneaking around with a dime bag in a coat pocket and worrying about whether the neighbors know you’ve got weed. But the sad truth is that, for millions of Americans living in prohibition or restrictive medical-only states, accessing safe and regulated cannabis is still a problem. But does that mean that those living without access to the regulated market are abstaining from cannabis altogether?

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