The Democratic National Committee, which is led by embattled anti-pot proponent Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has officially made the decision to include marijuana reform in the party’s 2016 platform.
Over the weekend, the DNC announced the party was taking sides with the issue of taming the pot laws in the United States, a position that is said to include the elimination of the criminal penalties associated with the possession of marijuana, tearing down the barriers currently in place with respect the studying the plant’s therapeutic benefits, and allowing the scourge of prohibition to be severed at the neck in those states electing to make the cannabis industry a part of their economic profile.
In a statement, the party said: “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. 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.”
While the DNC’s latest stance on pot reform is a positive step forward, it does not go as deep as presidential candidate Bernie Sanders called for, last week, ahead of the party’s announcement. Sanders, who is still seemingly swinging for the Democratic nomination despite Hillary Clinton having already claimed her position on the ticket, was pushing for the DNC to embrace the total elimination of pot prohibition in the United States.
In a recent email, Sanders suggested that the agenda of the 12 million voters who stood up for the “political revolution” should be a priority for the DNC, calling for supporters to visit his website and select from more than 20 political platform ideas that they would like to see the Democrats get behind. Among the list was to “Remove Marijuana From The Federal Controlled Substances Act.”
According to Marijuana.com, the concept of amending the national drug policy was echoed last Friday during a Democratic Platform Drafting hearing in St. Louis, where Sanders-appointed panel member Bill McKibben told the room that “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,” he continued, “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.”
Unfortunately, while it does not appear the Democrats will enter into the final stretch of the election season by taking a bold leap in supporting the end of marijuana prohibition, the party’s decision to side with any pot reform, at all, should be considered, at bare minimum, a victory for the cause. After all, it was not that long ago when DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told The New York Times that she didn’t think the United States should legalize marijuana because it is a gateway drug. Of course, that statement caused the Florida Congresswoman to catch a substantial amount of heat from cannabis advocates all over the country because it was later revealed that her opinion might have been influenced by the thousands of dollars in campaign donations she has received throughout the years from the alcohol industry – makers of a socially accepted substance that has been proven time and again to be the real gateway to addiction.
Although the party’s position on pot reform is likely in the bag, Tom Angell with the Marijuana Majority says the DNC’s marijuana platform could still be revised in the coming weeks.