Over the course of of eleven weeks, we recently ran a series of blog posts that take a close look at the Democratic Party candidates for President in 2020. We examined each candidate’s historic approach to marijuana law and policy, and we also canvassed their current respective stances on marijuana.
In all, we covered Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Corey Booker, Beto O’Rourke, Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar and Julián Castro. We concluded by covering President Trump.
Those posts were very popular, and in light of the fact that two more Democratic Party candidates have since qualified for the next debate, we will be covering Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard this week, and liberal activist Tom Stayer next week.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
Stance on marijuana: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is an outspoken advocate for the legalization of marijuana. As quoted on her website, Gabbard believes:
Our outdated policies on marijuana are turning everyday Americans into criminals, tearing apart families, and wasting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for non-violent marijuana charges.
Most importantly, Gabbard’s history of pro-legalization legislation shows that she is more than just talk.
History: Gabbard’s website highlights both criminal justice reform and ending the War on Drugs as major policies within her platform. Gabbard also frequently expresses support for legalizing marijuana on her social media, discussing the harms of criminalization within the context of the War on Drugs and the opioid crisis in America.
Most importantly, Gabbard has backed up her rhetoric with real legislative action. Since assuming office in the House in 2013, Gabbard has introduced, signed, and voted for numerous bills related to marijuana. In 2017, Gabbard cosponsored the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, a bi-partisan bill which, if passed, would remove marijuana from the controlled substances list. The following year, Gabbard introduced the Marijuana Data Collection Act, a bill that would direct the Justice Department to research the effects of marijuana legalization. Gabbard hoped that this research to “dispel myths and stigma” surrounding marijuana. This year, Gabbard has cosponsored The Marijuana Justice Act, which would deschedule marijuana if passed, and the VA Medicinal Cannabis Research Act, which would direct the VA to research the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. These bills, however, are just a few of the many. From protecting states where marijuana is legal to funding research into marijuana (as well as CBD and hemp), Gabbard’s legislative record on marijuana is extremely comprehensive.
Marijuana legalization is front and center to Gabbard’s campaign. In her campaign announcement speech, Gabbard criticized the hypocrisy of criminalizing marijuana:
Our current criminal justice system puts people in prison for smoking marijuana, while allowing corporations like Purdue Pharma who are responsible for the opioid-related deaths of thousands of people to walk away scot-free with their coffers full.”
During the first Democratic presidential debate, Gabbard also called out the hypocrisy of fellow presidential hopeful Kamala Harris. In recent years, Harris has frequently criticized the War on Drugs and advocated for the legalization of marijuana. As Gabbard called out, however, Harris was not so friendly to marijuana users when she served as District attorneys:
There are too many examples to cite but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana.
Conclusion We award Gabbard an “A+” grade for making marijuana legalization central to her platform and for her extensive record of legislative action on marijuana. Gabbard has clearly demonstrated her commitment to legalizing marijuana and we believe that she would see the job through if elected President.