The 2020 election is heating up, and one of the many issues the candidates have weighed in on is marijuana. Although the drug is illegal at the federal level, many states have legalized it on a medical and/or recreational basis, and efforts to remove the federal prohibition on the drug are gaining steam in the Senate. As such, many observers are wondering exactly where the 2020 candidates stand on marijuana legalization.
Marijuana policy is complex and multifaceted, and there are many ways in which a politician might be called "pro-marijuana." For instance, they might support de-scheduling the drug from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA); this would immediately end the federal prohibition on marijuana and, as a result, bring states that have already legalized it in compliance with federal law.
Alternatively, a politician could support legalizing medical, but not recreational, marijuana. Or, they could support retaining the federal ban but carving out an exception for states that have legalized it on their own; this is what the STATES Act, currently under consideration in Congress, would do. For politicians who support some form of legalization, there's also the question of whether to expunge the criminal records, and release from prison, those who've been convicted of marijuana-related crimes.
Recently, Sen. Cory Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, a far-reaching piece of legislation that would end the federal ban on marijuana, expunge marijuana convictions, invest in job training for the marijuana industry, and cut funding for local police departments that disproportionately arrested people of color for marijuana-related crimes.
Here's a look at where the upcoming batch of presidential contenders stands on weed: