Cory Booker is calling his party’s bluff. The Democratic Senator from New Jersey introduced a far-reaching piece of legislation earlier this month that would not only legalize marijuana, but also place sanctions on municipalities that don’t right the racist wrongs of prohibition’s past and present. Booker’s bill isn’t expected to pass, but for the early 2020 presidential prospect, his firm stance on cannabis will have more important implications in years to come.
According to a report from Politico, Booker’s hardline on legalization and the racial justice that goes along with it would force the issue for his democratic primary competitors, many of whom have for years been vague on the now-demonstrative issue.
“Booker is getting a ton of fantastic press about this,’’ Tom Angell, longtime cannabis activist and chairman of the bipartisan advocacy group Marijuana Majority, said. “And other candidates will notice that and will want to say, 'I agree — and I want to introduce a bill of my own.'”
2020’s other rumored Trump rivals, Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, have all either spoken out in favor of legal weed or put their name on legislation for some sort of medical or recreational cannabis support.
“While I don’t believe in legalizing all drugs ... we need to do the smart thing, the right thing, and finally decriminalize marijuana.” Sen.Harris said in a speech last month.
In the face of Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act and rising public support, though, the White House hopefuls might have to take a similarly progressive, anti-prohibition stance.
Bernie may have stood up for decriminalizing cannabis and states’ right to legalize during last year’s election, but legalization never became a serious promise or talking point from any candidate, Republican or Democrat. With a recent CBS News poll putting American support for legalization at 61%, Booker is banking on a population completely fed up with prohibition and Jeff Sessions’ reefer madness by 2020.
“Legal access to cannabis is the future,’’ John Malanca, co-founder of the California-based United Patients Group, a national organization that specializes in promoting cannabis education for patients, doctors and adult users, said. “If you are against medical cannabis access, or against cannabis legalization, you're already in the minority.”
On the other side of the aisle, Trump campaigned in favor of states’ right to choose their own marijuana regulations, but by appointing Jeff Sessions as the nation’s top law enforcer and supporting his racist crusade against legal weed, the president lost any iota of cannabis credibility that he may have enjoyed during the election.
With public support for weed significantly higher than for the president, it’s not absurd to assume that Trump will be the last elected president to uphold cannabis prohibition in the United States.