A board for the Democratic National Committee approved a proposal that will allow the Democratic Party to include marijuana reform in its official 2016 platform.
This come despite anti-pot commentary made earlier this year by DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz suggesting that the United States should avoid marijuana legalization, like the plague, because it would provide citizens with a gateway to addiction.
Last Friday, actions taken by members of the party’s Platform Drafting Committee gave us some indication that Democrats are now fully prepared to tender their support for changing the antiquated pot laws in this country. In a brief statement obtained by Marijuana.com, the party announced three key points for which they will stand behind during the final stretch of the current election season, including the elimination of criminal penalties for pot possession, the modification of policies to allow for more scientific research, and supporting each state’s right to abolish prohibitionary standards in an effort to make legal weed a vital part of their respective economies.
“We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so,” the statement begins.
“We support 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. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates.”
But while the DNC’s pro-pot position is something to be celebrated in the grand scheme of the decades-long movement to bring this versatile plant into the mainstream, the party’s support was not as comprehensive as presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was hoping for.
Last week, Sanders began driving his supporters to his website to get involved with the selection of potential platform ideas that they would like to see represented by the Democratic Party. In the midst of an extensive list of key issues, was “Remove Marijuana From The Federal Controlled Substances Act.”
Although it is not known just how much of Sander’s loyal following got onboard with the prospect of including the destruction of prohibition as part of the Democrat’s newly adopted platform, there was obviously enough of a response to prompt panel members to bring up the topic during a recent forum in St. Louis.
“This is one of these issues where society has largely made up its mind, like gay marriage, and now it’s time for politicians and political institutions to catch up with them,” Sanders panelist Bill McKibben told the committee.
“The idea that marijuana is maintained in federal policy as a drug equivalent to heroin or cocaine or methamphetamine is not only silly, it’s also damaged millions of lives at this point as people have had to cope with the repercussions of that unsound federal policy. We’ve begun to see experimentation in states with good effect, and it’s important that the federal government let that experimentation continue in full without any of the problems that are caused by marijuana continuing to be a federally scheduled drug.”
National marijuana reform advocates believe the Democratic Party openly taking a favorable position on marijuana reform during an important election year is a sign that the establishment, which has fought so hard to demonize the cannabis plant for the past several decades, is finally recognizing that pot reform is a hot issue with the American public.
"If anyone didn't yet realize that marijuana law reform is a mainstream issue at the forefront of American politics, the fact that one of the country's two major parties is now enthusiastically on board should prove it,” Tom Angell with the Marijuana Majority told MERRY JANE.
“Marijuana used to be viewed as a dangerous third rail of politics that elected officials would run away from, but now that it's clear voters want to end prohibition, politicians are jumping all over one another to be the next to join the call for change."
Although the DNC’s position on marijuana appears to be set in stone, Angell said there is still a possibility the platform could be modified from its current form within the next couple of weeks.