The Democratic party is getting aggressive when it comes to backing the nationwide legalization of marijuana, by approving a progressive stance on the issue for which it believes will be “a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”
Last month, a board for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) voted on modest marijuana reform -- siding with the decriminalization of petty pot possession and increased research -- this move is a bold step to a more aggressive stance.
Over the weekend, the party’s drafting committee met in Orlando to discuss policies include in its official 2016 platform. Among the issues was a proposal dragged to the table by former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders calling for the total elimination of marijuana from the evil confines of the Controlled Substances Act.
Speaking on behalf of the amendment was Sanders’ delegate David King, an attorney from Tennessee, who told committee members that the branding of marijuana as a drug that is just as dangerous as heroin was done during a political “craze” intended to jam up “hippies and blacks” inside the crevasses of the criminal justice system.
Throughout the debate, it appeared as though the Sanders amendment did not stand a chance in hell at being endorsed by the Party, mostly due to the concerns of committee members over how a position calling for the total elimination of prohibition might be a step over the line.
But rather than dismissing the amendment altogether, the committee simply opted to tame it down in such a way that would make it a more palatable view, and of course, less of a schizophrenic departure from the position it embraced, back in June, siding with policies “that will allow more research to be done on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty.”
When it finally came time for the committee to take up a vote, the revised Sanders proposal was approved by the skin of its teeth, with just over half of the committee voting in its favor.
Not surprisingly, an opposing tongue emerged immediately after the vote from the mouth of former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, who functions as a co-chair for the platform committee, because she suspected that at least one committee member did not have a “clicker” to cast a vote.
This attempt to sabotage the success of the new pot amendment caused a noticeable raucous from the crowd of spectators, most of which were Sanders supporters, until former Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, a Clinton delegate, announced that his team was refusing to contest the passing of the amendment.
The upgraded language of the Democratic Party’s official position on marijuana is now as follows:
“Because of conflicting laws concerning marijuana, both on the federal and state levels, we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from its list as a Class 1 Federal Controlled Substance, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”
Although it is encouraging that the Democratic Party has essentially acknowledged that marijuana legalization is on the horizon, the updated platform is really just another way for the Party to clarify its support for allowing states the freedom to legalize weed without Uncle Sam breathing down their necks and the need to pave the way for more cannabis research in an effort to truly understand the therapeutic benefits of the plant.
However, the Party’s position, in the event that its candidate takes control of the White House in 2017, could be enough to transform the progressive talk we’ve heard coming from the Obama administration for the past several years into actions that bring about a legitimate change in the realm of nationwide reform.
Unfortunately, as long as the Republicans continue to dominate the halls of Congress there is not much hope that this or any other Democratic opinion will assist in bringing about any substantial change in the coming years. As it stands, the Republican Party has yet to adopt a pro-pot position for its official 2016 campaign platform.
On Tuesday, Sanders endorsed his former opponent Hillary Clinton. This coupled with the announcement of Snoop Dogg’s performance shows this year's DNC will be one for the books.