Former Maryland Governor and current democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley yesterday held a marijuana legalization listening session in Denver, Colorado. Hoping to ignite progressive voters and to differentiate himself from the two leading democratic candidates, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, O’Malley is emphasizing marijuana law reform as a key plank of his campaign.
O’Malley met in Denver with leading marijuana law reform activists, and cannabis industry leaders, acknowledging, “If you talk to young Americans under 30 there is a growing consensus that marijuana should be treated more akin to alcohol than to other substances.” He pledged, if elected President, to use his executive authority to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act.
“While O’Malley’s pledge is a step in the right direction, NORML believes in descheduling cannabis, not rescheduling cannabis. Cocaine, for instance, is a Schedule II controlled substance under federal law, as is methamphetamine. NORML is not of the belief that an ideal public policy is to cease treating marijuana like heroin (Schedule I) but rather to treat it like cocaine (Schedule II).” As NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano recently told the Associated Press, “Rather, we would prefer to see cannabis classified and regulated in a manner that more closely resembles alcohol or tobacco, neither substance of which is classified in any category under the CSA.”
O’Malley’s announcement yesterday came on the heels of recent, marijuana-specific comments by Clinton and Sanders.
On Monday, at a campaign stop in Luther College, Clinton responded to a question on whether or not she would support marijuana legalization as President. She answered, “I would support states and localities that are experimenting with this.”
In an interview with Little Village, a public affairs program on PATV in Iowa City, Sanders also pledged non-governmental interference in state marijuana laws, commenting, “What the federal government can do is say to the state of Colorado that if you choose to vote to legalize marijuana, we will allow you to do that without restrictions.”
Sanders also pledged to amend federal banking laws to permit state-licensed business to operate like any other legal entity, “In Colorado people who run marijuana shops can’t put their money in banks,” he said. “That’s a violation of federal law. So I think there are things that the federal government can do that would make it easier for states that want to go in that direction to be able to do so.” In addition, he reiterated his position in favor of medical marijuana and decriminalization, a policy he supported in his home state of Vermont.
However, when asked about full legalization, Sanders continues to be noncommittal, responding, “We’re exploring the pluses and minuses — of which there are both — of moving more aggressively on that issue. It is a very important issue. We’re watching what Colorado is doing, and we’ll have more to say about that in the coming weeks and months.”
The comments made by all three Democratic candidates for president, coupled with the marijuana related question aimed at the Republican candidates in the most recent Republican primary debate, highlight the new, elevated role marijuana law reform is playing in the election of our next President of the United States. In previous years, candidates’ largely ignored or belittled the issue. But this election that won’t suffice. Voters are demanding clear answers from candidates on what the federal government should do in relation to marijuana policy and they are demanding a change from business as usual.
All seven of NORML PAC’s publicly endorsed candidates for the US House of Representatives won decisively in yesterday’s midterm election.
Rep. Alan Grayson for Congress (FL-09)
Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman for Congress (NJ-12)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer for Congress (OR-03)
Rep. Steve Cohen for Congress (TN-9)
Rep. Beto O’Rourke for Congress (TX-16)
Rep. Denny Heck for Congress (WA-10)
Rep. Jared Polis for Congress (CO-02)
These candidates all endorsed the full legalization of marijuana and are dedicated to championing reform at the federal level in the 114th Congress. We fully expect these individuals to be instrumental in introducing and advancing important legislation when they begin their new session in January.
“What is really worth noting,” stated NORML PAC Manager Erik Altieri, “Is that all of our endorsements for the US House of Representatives happened to be Democrats and all won by large margins in a year where others in their party were getting handily defeated nationwide. Perhaps this, coupled with solid wins for legalization in Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia, will send a message to Democratic Party members across the country that it is not only good policy to support marijuana legalization, but good politics.”
Also winning their elections were NORML PAC endorsed New Jersey Senate candidate Cory Booker and Maine State Representative Diane Russell.
Want to help us continue to elect pro-reform candidates across the country? DONATE to NORML PAC today!
John Hanger is currently pursuing the Democratic nomination in the Pennsylvania gubernatorial race and has made marijuana law reform a central plank in his platform. He has released a three step plan for marijuana law reform that advocates for medical marijuana and decriminalization immediately upon taking office in 2015 and to move to full legalization by 2017.
At the press conference, NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri stated, “Hanger is the only candidate who isn’t afraid to openly discuss and campaign on a platform that calls for widespread reform of Pennsylvania’s marijuana laws. Since the start of his campaign, John Hanger has been a passionate and outspoken advocate of ending Pennsylvania’s war on marijuana and moving the state towards a smarter approach.”
In an interview with NORML conducted earlier this year, John Hanger stated his belief that marijuana law reformers can elect the next governor. “We can win this issue in May 2014, by my winning that primary,” Hanger said, “It will shock the political establishment and accelerate the changing of the laws by years in Pennsylvania and around the country. I believe Pennsylvania is seen as a bellwether. If marijuana reform can win in Pennsylvania, it can win anywhere.”
VOTER NOTE: Since the Republicans are running current governor Tom Corbett for reelection, there will only be a Democratic primary in this election which will be held in May 2014. To vote in this primary, you must be registered Democrat. You can change your party affiliation, then change it back, at any time by sending in a new voter registration application and marking “Change of Party” where given the option. More information on Pennsylvania voting can be found here.
They say things are bigger in Texas and, according to new survey data just released by Public Policy Polling, that includes support for marijuana law reform.
PPP’s polling found that 58% of Texans support regulating marijuana like alcohol and only 38% were opposed. This change in policy was supported by 59% of women, 70% of Democrats, 57% of Independents, a majority of all racial demographics, and a majority of all age demographics.
The survey also reported that 58% of Texans supported medical marijuana and 61% supported the decriminalization of possession of an ounce or less.
You can read the full survey here.
With a high profile governor’s race shaping up between Senator Wendy Davis, the only declared
Democrat, and a Republican challenger (Attorney General Abbot seems to be leading in current polls) the time is ripe to make marijuana law reform a major issue in America’s second most populated state.
TEXANS: You can contact the announced candidates for Texas governor by clicking on their links below. Send them a quick message telling them:
“Public Policy Polling found that 58% of Texans support ending our costly war on marijuana and replacing it with a system of regulation similar to how we deal with alcohol. This majority support was spread across all age and ethnic demographics. It is time we consider a new approach to marijuana. As a Texas voter, I am very concerned with your position on the issues of marijuana law reform and would greatly appreciate if you could inform me of your stance on the taxation and regulation of marijuana, as well as allowing for its medical use and decriminalization of personal possession.”
State Senator Wendy Davis
(If you receive a response please forward it to email@example.com)
Miriam Martinez (posted in response to a question on her Facebook page): “I support the medical use of marijuana and decriminalization of personal possession.”
During an interview with HuffPo Live yesterday, Newark Mayor and potential gubernatorial candidate Cory Booker made some very strong statements in favor of drug law reform. When asked about medical marijuana, a program that was approved in his state, but has been slow in implementation, Mayor Booker spoke strongly in favor of allowing patients access to cannabis, but thought we could do even more:
Medical marijuana, heck yes. I do not understand that there are drugs that are more toxic, more dangerous and more challenging, in drugs stores around my state, yet we single out this one drug and we say you can’t even have it in a medical fashion, at a time when I see prescription drugs from Adderall to you name it being used widely across our nation…
The reason I said I want to go beyond that…is because of the drug war.
We have seen so much of our national treasure being spent in the national drug war and in my opinion have turned human life into incarceration, trapping into poverty…
What I’ve seen in Newark is a massive trap in this drug war, and its not just a trap for the individuals being arrested, it’s a trap for taxpayers, communities and towns. We’re not making our nation safer with this assault on this drug war, we are not making our state less addicted to substances. We need to change, radically change, the conversation and begin to talk about drugs, especially drugs like pot, in a different way.
This is a conversation that no matter what I do, Mayor, Governor, Senator, I want to be one of the people, hopefully, trying to lead the national conversation away from this insanity that we have now.
View the full interview here.
Mayor Booker isn’t the only prominent Democrat with higher political aspirations embracing the idea of marijuana law reform. This year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo came out strongly in favor of fully decriminalizing marijuana possession in his state and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin voiced his desire to be a national leader pushing to change our country’s draconic marijuana policies. Even former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton have recently criticized the War on Drugs as a failed effort, with President Carter going as far as endorsing full legalization.
So, President Obama, do you want to be on the right or wrong side of history? Your party, and the nation, are moving towards regulated marijuana whether you aid in its implementation or not. It is becoming more and more obvious that the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016, and possibly even the Republican, will not only be critical of the war on drugs, but will likely support progressive reforms such as decriminalization or legalization. There are still four years left in your second term, Mr. President, don’t let them pass you by and have to look back and think what you could’ve done.