Marijuana legalization is a handy flashpoint for understanding potential presidential candidates. A politician's stance against weed can reveal what pies their fingers are in: Ties to big pharma? Stock in private prisons? Love of cops? Plain old racism? Or, should they support legalization, do they care more about free markets, or exploring healthcare options that don't end in people getting addicted to oxycontin? Is their support a reflection of their values, or a grab for millennial votes?
In the spirit of Inevitable President Zuckerberg and the continuing unstoppable oligarchy in which broke, stoned citizens are helpless to stop their own demise, I've compiled a list of potential 2020 presidential candidates and their stance on legalization, ranked from least to most supportive.
Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City (Democrat)
Bill de Blazio is allegedly putting out feelers, says NY Post's Page Six, because Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are too old to carry the Democratic party's torch. Is he really de Blazeio, as Gothamist suggests? Unlikely. De Blasio campaigned on the promise that his administration would focus on reducing marijuana arrests, but the amount of arrests has increased. Despite a tenuous (at best) relationship with the NYPD, de Blasio supports "broken windows policing," a policing philosophy introduced by Rudy Giuliani in which cops come down hard on small offenses to prevent bigger crimes. It's nonsense, and a president who supports militarized policing likely won't support legalization.
Joe Biden, Former Vice President (Democrat)
As Barack Obama's Vice President, Joe Biden developed a reputation as America's Cool Uncle because the patriarchy extends laurels to any white guy who has a nice smile. Biden believes weed is a "gateway drug," and supports decriminalization, but not legalization. He supported the war on drugs, and sponsored the R.A.V.E. (Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy) Act which held building owners liable for drugs sold on their premises. Any senator who sponsors a bill with corny acronym deserves to be V.O.T.E.D. (Voted Out ThE Damnbuilding). Biden has been waffling on if he'll run or not, but at least he can still toot his own horn: "I never thought [Clinton] was a great candidate. I thought I was a great candidate." Confidence is sexy, except if you're a 74-year-old grandpa who's liable to double down on the drug war at any second.
John Kasich, Governor of Ohio (Republican)
While it's true that John Kasich signed Ohio's strict medical marijuana regulations into law, like any curmudgeon-ass dad worth his riding lawnmower, he didn't enjoy doing so. Instead, he signed them "because somebody was going to have a broader law," which is like mowing the lawn so your wife doesn't fully re-landscape it. Anyway it doesn't matter because Kasich's political career in 2020 will continue to go nowhere. But he hasn't shut the door on a bid!
Eric Holder, Former Attorney General (Democrat)
Holder has remained quiet since he left office in 2015, but rumors have been swirling as he mentions he's ready to re-enter the political fray. As Attorney General, Holder's maintained a "look the other way" policy on marijuana, and while it was nice of him to not intervene with states' decisions to legalize or decriminalize weed, neither he nor his successor Loretta Lynch actually rescheduled marijuana so that it was no longer classified alongside cocaine and opiates, allowing Jeff Sessions to step in and prosecute marijuana like it were literal satan. Holder's softened his stance on weed after stepping down as A.G., and if elected, he'd probably legalize it wholesale as long as we didn't make too much of a stink about mass surveillance and drone strikes. Next!
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook (Democrat/Technocrat)
Despite claims that he's not running for President, Facebook's snakely CEO and the Charles Foster Kane our world deserves is on some sort of bullshit "listening tour" so he can pretend he cares about people and not just the advertising revenue they represent. He recognizes that marijuana arrests are part of mass incarceration, so he'd likely support decriminalization, and maybe even legalization, but it wouldn't matter because we'll all be smoking weed in virtual reality in the back of a self-driving Uber taking us to the slums we've all been pushed into by Silicon Valley capitalist genius dweebs. Zuck 2020!
Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota Senator (Democrat)
By now, you should be noticing a pattern here: Some high-profile figure says they don't want to run for President, but then they do a bunch of stuff that completely contradicts their claim. Klobuchar, for her part, raised some eyebrows by going to Iowa and holding a fundraiser that J.J. Abrams went to. Klobuchar has sponsored legislation to ban synthetic drugs like K2 and bath salts. Meth and heroin are her priority. Legalization or decriminalization are unlikely to be high on her list.
John Delaney, Maryland Congressman (Democrat)
John Delaney is the only person, politician or not, to officially announce a bid for the 2020 primary. Delaney's a free-market capitalist but favors taxing the rich and increasing the minimum wage. He supports weed-adjacent legislation like the SAFE Act of 2017, which, if passed, will allow but not require banks to provide services to legal cannabis businesses (like the legal medical dispensaries in Maryland, expected to be operational this year) without federal repercussions. It's a step in the right direction, but not a big step. Supporting Federal legalization likely won't be at the top of his list, but he'd probably be down if everyone else is.
Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Congresswoman (Democrat)
Hawaii's Tulsi Gabbard is a rising star in the Democratic party; the Congresswoman was a staunch Sanders supporter and shares a bunch of political positions with him. The leftist publication Jacobin wrote about how she's not your friend, which on one level is obvious because you've even never met her, but also holy shit did you know that Steve Bannon likes her? Anyways, no word on whether she actually supports legalization, but if she wants grab the Sanders crowd, she better.
Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Senator (Democrat)
Warren won't deny that she's eyeing the Presidency, and is one of the better-positioned Democrats to take the job. She's already got the slogan on lock, what with the persisting and all. Warren is in the Sanders camp, and is open to considering legalization, though she doesn't fully support it yet.
Kamala Harris, California Senator (Democrat)
To her credit, Kamala Harris has attacked good ol' boy Jefferson Beauregard Sessions for his hardline stance on drugs. She supports full decriminalization (note, not legalization…yet), and states upfront that the drug war is directly tied to mass incarceration. She's meeting with Clinton's people, and much like Tulsi Gabbard has also gotten the deluxe Jacobin treatment. In other words, she's moving in the right direction, though as of now it's unclear whether "right" means "conservative" or "correct."
Stephen Colbert, TV Personality (Democrat)
On Russian TV he took a shot of vodka and said he'd run. Was it serious? Who the hell cares! He'd probably be down to legalize, even if only out of spite.
Rand Paul, Kentucky Senator (Republican)
Note: This is not actually Rand Paul, but you already knew that. Image via
The son of Ron Paul, Rand Paul is such a libertarian golden child that his first name is Ayn Rand's last name. He supports a "repeal on the pot prohibition," just like ol' Fountainhead-ass herself. As Ayn says, "adults should be free to kill themselves in any way they want." So if by some act of Libertarian God (aka the free market) Rand Paul becomes president, enjoy smoking your spliffs in the sweet smog of unregulated capitalism.
Cory Booker, New Jersey Senator (Democrat)
After his speech at the Democratic National Convention last year, you just knew that Cory Booker was going to run, and sure enough, he won't deny the possibility of a bid. He's also introduced legislation to federally legalize it, and specifically ties legalization to racial justice. New Jersey has not decriminalized marijuana, though, which (eyes emoji). Since it's basically impossible for his bill to pass in today's Congress, it sure seems like attention grab for young democrats. He's good at Twitter and posting pixelated memes of himself. And he's vegan. Do you ever feel like something is too good to be true? Swipe left.
Al Franken, The Other Senator from Minnesota Besides Amy Klobuchar (Democrat)
Unlike most politicians, Al Franken actually says what he means, which while admirable means we should probably take him at his word when he says he's not running. Anyways, let's speculate just for fun: As a member of the first class of writers and performers on Saturday Night Live, Al Franken was sort of required to do a lot of drugs, and now as a politician he's teamed up with Cory Booker, Rand Paul, and others to protect states' ability to legalize medical marijuana. So he'd be a good bet. But he's not running so let it go.
Mark Cuban, Eccentric Billionaire/Owner of the Dallas Mavericks/The Shark Tank Guy (Democrat)
The alleged inspiration for Silicon Valley's Russ Hanneman might be considering a presidential run. In 2014 he said "Hell f***ing no" to running for president, and a simple "yes" to legalizing marijuana. Cuban is a self-described libertarian but also believes in taxes and healthcare, so, not a real libertarian. Propose legalized weed to Cuban and he's liable to offer you a $500k investment to get your growing operation off the ground in exchange for a 49 percent share of the business, assuming you ask him on TV and maybe cry a little bit.
Bernie Sanders, Bernie Sanders (Bernie Sanders)
The Vermont senator, is "keeping the door open" to a presidential bid. Let's not waste time: he supports decriminalization, with states able to choose full legalization. Onwards.
Jill Stein, The One from the Green Party (Green Party)
Jill Stein supports full federal legalization of marijuana. (They call it the Green Party for a reason y'all!!!!) But she was at that dinner with Putin and Michael Flynn, and I'm not saying Russian collusion but I'm not not saying it. Anything is possible!
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Actor/Wrestler/Beefcake (Republican Maybe?)
The Rock is whatever we need him to be. The National Review says he's registered Republican; Rolling Stone claims he's an independent; we all claim he seems like a fun dude to hang out with. Someone unaffiliated with Johnson has filed campaign committee called "Run the Rock 2020" with the FEC. We have yet to see if Johnson will take advantage of it. No word on his stance on marijuana, but The Rock is a representation of everything we want and need in American leadership. We must believe that he believes in full legalization. Do you smell what the Rock is cooking? It's two pounds of fresh cod, pan-fried in cannabis oil.
In the Trump administration, it's comforting to believe we can only go up from here. The pendulum, hopefully, will swing back towards rational, dignified leadership, and consideration for the rights of all Americans. Perhaps weed will even be added to those rights. It's dreams that carry us through the darkness. Zuck vs. Rock 2020.