Where do Candidates stand on Cannabis? Election 2020
Updated: Feb 17
With the election coming fast, it’s important to be informed.
Here, we are providing information on the two main presidential candidates’ stances on cannabis. We encourage you to do research on your local and state policies as well. Some states have marijuana legalization on their ballot for this election.
Cannabis is just one policy of many that candidates have a stance on, think about what policies are important to you.
When’s the election?
The general election is on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. (It’s always the first Tuesday of November in an election year).
How do I register to vote?
Voter registration is dependent on the state you live in. Find out how to register in your state at vote.gov. It’s the official voters website.
Who should I vote for?
That is up to you!
It’s your vote and it’s your privilege as an United States citizen.
Research each of the candidate’s platforms and vote on who aligns more with your values and beliefs.
Some Cannabis political websites to check out are:
NORML grades governors on their cannabis policy
Biden-Harris vs. Trump-Pence: Where do they stand in terms of Cannabis?
Joe Biden’s stance:
Does not support federal legalization
When asked about legalizing marijuana federally, he uses the defense of “we need more research.”
Decriminalize cannabis use
Expunge prior convictions
States should decide on legalizing recreational use
Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug by the Controlled Substance Act and Biden wants to change it to a Schedule II drug. Reclassification would give access to funding and allow for research. However, his policies don’t necessarily aid cannabis research in other barriers that it faces. Some drugs that are also classified as Schedule II are morphine, opium and methamphetamine.
Joe Biden’s comments on marijuana:
Official Statement: “Decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions. Biden believes no one should be in jail because of cannabis use. As president, he will decriminalize cannabis use and automatically expunge prior convictions. And, he will support the legalization for recreational use up to the states, and reschedule cannabis as a schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts.”
“If you are in prison, if you are convicted of a crime, no one should be going to jail for drug crime. Nobody. Particularly marijuana which makes no sense for people to go to jail. They should be just wiped out completely and the reason is, if anything for those crimes that are actually continue to be crime, scheduled crimes as marijuana shouldn’t be anymore, what is happening is you shouldn’t go to prison. You should go to a mandatory rehabilitation. It costs less to put people in a drug rehabilitation program than it does in jail and you have a chance. We’ve got to give people a chance.” Interview with Charlamagne tha God, 05/22/20 (Transcript)
Biden led the anti-drug war but now takes a more moderate approach to marijuana. He and Bloomberg were the only democratic nominees who did not support federal legalization. All the other democratic candidates, including his running mate Kamala Harris, support federal legalization.
Kamala Harris (Biden’s VP running mate)
Kamala Harris’s stance:
Supports federal legalization
She backed the MORE (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement) Act, Marijuana Justice Act, and co-sponsored the SAFE Banking Act, which would protect banks that work with marijuana businesses from federal punishment.
Kamala Harris’s comments on marijuana:
“Times have changed—marijuana should not be a crime. We need to start regulating marijuana, and expunge marijuana convictions from the records of millions of Americans so they can get on with their lives.” Harris said when introducing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act.
“Marijuana small businesses employ more than 240,000 workers and should be allowed to access coronavirus relief funds too. My colleagues and I are pushing to ensure they’re not left out of Congress’s next relief package.” Tweet, 04/24/20
Her stance has evolved over time. She wasn’t always cannabis friendly but she now is a leader in cannabis reform.
On decriminalization, nothing has changed. He hasn’t opposed it but also hasn’t helped with this policy.
On medical marijuana, nothing has changed. When asked, he wants to leave it up to the states. It is important to note that Trump hired Jeff Session as Attorney General, a vocal opponent to medical marijuana. Trump also proposed repealing an existing policy protecting the Justice Department from interfering with state laws regarding the “use, distributions, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” It is part of his 2021 fiscal year budget plan. Congress has ignored this proposal.
On rescheduling, nothing has changed.
Donald Trump’s comments on marijuana:
I really do. I support Senator Gardner (re: STATES Act). I know exactly what he’s doing, we’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.” Comment on Re: STATES Act, 06/08/18
Re: STATES Act, a bipartisan bill that would effectively end the federal prohibition on marijuana and leave the issue up to the states
“I think what the president is looking at, is looking at this from the standpoint of a parent of a young person to make sure that we keep our kids away from drugs. They need to be kept illegal. That is the federal policy…I think the president has been pretty clear on his views on marijuana at the federal level, I know many states have taken a different path.” Marc Lotter, director of strategic communications, 02/19/20
Trump doesn’t have an official statement on his stance for cannabis. He is on the side of not supporting federal legalization and letting states decide, same as Biden.
Mike Pence (VP to Trump)
Mike Pence’s stance:
Anti-legalization of cannabis
Against decriminalization of cannabis
Mike Pence's comments on marijuana:
“I don't support legalization of marijuana and that's been my position for a long time and will continue to be” 2014 CNN "State of the Union" interview of Mike Pence , 02/23/14
I would not support the decriminalization of marijuana. To be candid with you growing up in the Hoosier state, I’ve seen too many people become involved with marijuana and have their lives sidetracked as a result or to see marijuana become a gateway drug to even worse addictions on their part…Decriminalization is not the right path.” Indiana Governor’s debate in 2012, 10/25/12
Pence doesn’t have an official statement concerning cannabis but he’s made it clear he is anti-legalization of cannabis. He has stayed consistent on his cannabis views.
All in all, we urge you to continue to do your own research. Candidates will continue to give statements, interviews and comments on their views, not just on cannabis, before the November 3, 2020 election.
Remember, register to vote!