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Presidential Hopeful Elizabeth Warren Outlines Plan to Reform Federal Marijuana Laws

It’s light on details, but heavy on support for POCs and small cannabis businesses.

Elizabeth Warren Predicts Vote on Marijuana Bill if Democrats Take Senate
Albert H. Teich/ Shutterstock

As the competition between Democratic presidential hopefuls heats up, Senator Elizabeth Warren has published her plan for the cannabis policy that she would enact should she make it to the White House. 

Her plan — light on details compared to some of her opponents’ cannabis platforms — puts fixing the prejudice and bias of the Drug War at the center of legalization. “Legalizing marijuana gives us an opportunity to begin to repair the damage caused by our current criminal justice system,” begins the policy statement on the candidate’s campaign website, which is entitled “A Just and Equitable Cannabis Industry.” 

Many of the presidential nominees have proclaimed their support for legalizing marijuana on a federal level, with the notable exceptions of the top two centrist candidates Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg, who have softened decidedly anti stances during their campaigns to include some support for marijuana decriminalization. 

A November survey conducted by Pew Research found that two-thirds of United States residents now support cannabis legalization. Among Democrats and Democrat-leaning independents, that number rises to 78 percent. 

“The criminalization of marijuana wasn’t necessary or effective,” states Warren’s plan. In it, she says she would work with Congress to pass former nominee hopeful Kamala Harris’ Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which became the first cannabis legalization to clear the committee stage last month. 

Warren co-sponsored the MORE Act, as well as bi-cameral legislation to protect cannabis businesses that actually passed the House of Representatives last year.

That focus on legislation provides a stark contrast to nominee frontrunner Bernie Sanders’ recent assertion that he would legalize cannabis on his first day in office. 

Anti-Corporate Cannabis

Warren is known as a fierce opponent to corporatization, and her plan also focuses on protecting small cannabis businesses, and small-scale marijuana farmers of color. “We must prevent the corporate capture of this new, highly profitable industry with smart regulations that preserve market access and competition,” it states.

The plan would allow states to make their own decisions about marijuana legalization, and says Warren would fight to use federal funds to reverse “damage done to communities that have been unjustly targeted by marijuana enforcement.”

Warren is not a late arrival to the now-popular legalization movement. She was a co-sponsor with Senator Cory Gardner of a plan last year to allow states to regulate medicinal cannabis. In 2017 she penned a 21 page letter demanding answers about cannabis policy to Trump’s then-nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services. 

READ  NORML Writes Open Letter Condemning Cannabis Prohibition As Public Health Crisis

“As HHS Secretary, what would you do to further study this potential alternative to opioids?” the letter asked. 

As early as 2016, Warren has cited marijuana as a potential solution to the country’s grave opioid crisis. That year, she wrote to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asking for the agency to start looking at alternatives to pharmaceutical painkillers — which as most anyone reading this article could tell you, certainly includes cannabis

She has attributed the Senate’s inaction on cannabis to the Republican Party, predicting that Democrat control of the chamber would yield a vote on federal legalization

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