Illinois Governor Cites Cannabis Reform While Campaigning for Biden

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker campaigned for the reelection of President Biden on 4/20, citing Democratic-led advances for marijuana policy reform.

By
A.J. Herrington

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker took to the campaign trail over the weekend to stump for President Joseph Biden, taking advantage of the 420 weed high holiday as an opportunity to tout the cannabis policy reforms made by the current administration. At a campaign stop in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Saturday, Pritzker said that cannabis policy reform can have significant economic benefits in states that legalize marijuana for adults.

“I wanted to come up here on 4/20, because we, too, legalized cannabis in the state of Illinois, and I know that’s been a boon to not only state revenues but also to business and job creation in the state of Michigan,” said Pritzker, according to a report from Michigan Advance.

“To be blunt: we’re proud to have sparked a new industry when we legalized adult-use cannabis,” the governor added on X in a 420 tweet.

Joined by Michigan Democratic state Majority Leader Winnie Brinks, Pritzker said that legalizing marijuana in Michigan was just one of many Democratic victories in the state since 2018.

“You all have turned a state that was — let’s face it, a red state — into a purple state, and now a blue state,” Pritzker told the crowd. “There are so many other states in the country that should be following Michigan’s lead.”

The Illinois governor added that the progress made in Michigan did not come easy, encouraging the public to volunteer for the campaign and canvass voters to get out the Democratic message.

“It’s like the eighth-grade dance, for me, anyway. Sometimes you have to knock on three or four doors before you get somebody you can really talk to,” Pritzker said. “Because you’re willing to do that, you’re going to have somebody to dance with. You’re going to bring them to the dance.”

Biden Administration Reviewing Federal Weed Policy

In 2022, Biden issued an executive order pardoning thousands of low-level marijuana convictions and directed his administration to review the federal prohibition of cannabis. In August 2023, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine called on the Drug Enforcement Administration to change the classification of marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act. Under the 1970 legislation, the Schedule I classification indicates that a drug has no accepted medical value and a high propensity for abuse. Other drugs currently listed under Schedule I include heroin and LSD.

In January, the Department of Health and Human Services determined that marijuana is eligible for the less strict classification under federal drug laws, according to agency documents. As part of the review, researchers with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that credible evidence shows that marijuana has legitimate medical uses and fits the criteria for rescheduling under the Controlled Substances Act.

At his Grand Rapids campaign stop, Pritzker noted that Biden is also busy supporting his bid for reelection against former president and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. The president spent much of last week campaigning in the battleground state of Pennsylvania and will be making additional stops to help secure the “blue wall” of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, three states that voted for Trump in 2016 but then switched to Biden four years later.

“Democrats need to win the blue wall states. It’s vitally important, and Joe Biden knows it,” Pritzker said. “One of the reasons we’re having the Democratic National Convention here in the Midwest is because he recognizes how important this is.”

“Michigan sits in the middle,” he added. “If we don’t win Michigan, we can’t win the presidency. And if we don’t win Michigan, this country is going to go backwards.” 

Pritzker referred to criticisms that both frontrunners are too old to be elected, arguing that Biden’s experience and character are attributes that will help him in office while suggesting that Trump is uncaring.

“People sometimes say Joe Biden’s old. But Donald Trump has proven that you can be old and not learn anything,” said Pritzker. “You can be old without having learned, throughout the course of your life, empathy for people across the United States. And that is Joe Biden; he wears empathy on his sleeve.”

Pritzker acknowledged that last week, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy won his bid to be added to the Michigan ballot for the general election in November. But the governor said he was not concerned that Kennedy would be a spoiler candidate that takes votes away from the current president.

“There’s only one candidate on the ballot who can win and beat Donald Trump, and that’s Joe Biden,” Pritzker said. “I don’t think having ballot access for Robert Kennedy is going to change the fact that people are going to go into the voting booths and know that they’re throwing away their vote if they vote Robert Kennedy, and that if they vote for Joe Biden they’re assuring that we’re not going to have Donald Trump as president.”

Pritzker continued his support for the president’s reelection campaign on Sunday, leaning into his belief that Kennedy’s candidacy would not hurt Biden.

“Robert F. Kennedy Jr. being on the ballot in Michigan, I think is going to have a little effect on the ultimate result,” Pritzker said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” according to a report from The Hill. “People understand that there are really only two candidates that have a path to victory in this country and in Michigan. And, of course, that’s Joe Biden and Donald Trump.”

Both major political parties have yet to make their choice for president official. The GOP will meet at the Republican Convention being held in Milwaukee in July to nominate the party’s candidate for president, while Democrats will choose their nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August.

A.J. Herrington

A.J. Herrington is a San Diego-based freelance writer covering cannabis news, business, and culture.

View Comments

  • i told yall. i fuckin TOLD yall this old piece of trash and everyone who supports him will SUDDENLY start using weed to try to get votes, when theyve done nothing but sit on their lazy asses the entire term. The feds havent done a fucking thing related to weed, INDIVIDUAL STATES have. Dont let them get you confused.

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