SEP 12, 2019 12:09 PM PDT

Presidential Candidates and Cannabis Legalization: Where do they Stand?

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

As medical and recreational use of cannabis expands, it has become a hot political topic. It’s no surprise to see it covered on the campaign trail. Here’s a quick roundup of where the 2020 candidates stand on the issue, concentrating on full federal legalization, which many appear to support.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang: Pro-legalization. “We need to resolve the ambiguity and legalize marijuana at the federal level,” his site states.

Senator Elizabeth Warren: Pro-legalization, but this is a change since 2016. She now supports the STATES Act, one of the leading efforts to end cannabis prohibition at the federal level.

Former governor William Weld: Pro-legalization, after a long career against.

Senator Bernie Sanders: Pro-legalization (he introduced cannabis legalization nearly two decades earlier than the other candidates).

Representative Tim Ryan: Pro-legalization.

Senator Michael Bennet: Pro-legalization and pro-hemp, though this is a change since 2012.

Former vice president and senator Joe Biden: Anti-legalization, but pro-decriminalization, after a long career against.

Senator Cory Booker: Pro-legalization, chief sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act.

Governor and former attorney general Steve Bullock: Unclear: has supported medical marijuana but commented against recreational legalization.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: Pro-legalization.

Former representative Joe Walsh: Pro-legalization.

Former HUD secretary and mayor Julián Castro: Pro-legalization. He doesn’t have a strong record on the topic, but said in April 2019, “We need to ensure that we build on [sentencing reform legislation] and reform our criminal justice system… That we do things like legalize marijuana.”

Mayor Bill DeBlasio: Pro-legalization.

Author Marianne Williamson: Pro-legalization. “Isn't something backwards when assault weapons are legal, but marijuana is not?” she tweeted.

Former representative John Delaney: Unclear, but perhaps leaning toward legalization. He earned a “B” rating from NORML for his “consistent voting record in favor of cannabis reform,” Leafly reports.

US representativeTulsi Gabbard: Pro-legalization.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: Pro-legalization.

Senator and former attorney general, California, Kamala Harris: Pro-legalization, after years against.

Senator Amy Klobuchar: Pro-legalization -- a recent development.

President Donald Trump: Anti-federal legalization. He has at times stated he supports state-level choice on the matter, but his administration has also acted against this stance. Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, allowing U.S. Attorneys to resume enforcing federal marijuana laws in states with legalized recreational marijuana.

Mayor Wayne Messam: Unclear. He has made statements supporting regulated state legalization.

Former representative Beto O’Rourke: Pro-legalization.

As of the summer of 2019, cannabis use for recreational purposes was legal in 11 states and also in Washington, D.C. Illinois and Michigan just legalized recreational marijuana within the past year. More than 25 percent of the population of the U.S. now lives in a state that allows recreational cannabis use, according to VOX. In a recent CBS news poll of 1,010 adults, 65 percent said they support legalization.


To learn more about where the candidates stand, check out Medical Marijuana Inc.'s thorough and illustrated guide.


Article sources: Leafly, Yang2020,, Marijuana Moment, NORLML, VOX, CBS

About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech and conservation.
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