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The upcoming presidential election has raised many topics, from the proper handling of a viral pandemic, to each candidate’s stance on federal policy reforms. We at DC Alchemy wanted to outline each of the four parties major candidate’s views on marijuana. 

Currently, the federal government does not recognize the use of marijuana — medical or recreational — as legal. States are allowed to set their own laws revolving around the legality of marijuana. As of this month, 11 states have fully legalized marijuana, 34 legalized medicinal use, and 28 have decriminalized it. 

As it stands, the four candidates each have different views on the policy and whether to decriminalize the use of marijuana. To better understand what this means, the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics states that only 1.3% of  20,393 federal drug sentences were for marijuana-specific possession in 2019.

Let’s break down each candidate’s views. 

Democratic Candidate Joe Biden

In the past, Joe Biden actively stated that he believed marijuana was a gateway drug. A gateway drug is a habit-forming drug that, while not itself addictive, may lead to the use of other addictive drugs. In the past 10 years, the presidential candidate has changed his stance. 

Though while he no longer believes using marijuana will entice individuals to try other addictive drugs, he is still against the federal government legalizing it. 

However, Biden does support more modest reforms. He pledged to decriminalize possession, expunge past records, allow medical cannabis, and to continue to allow states to set their own laws without federal interference.

On top of that, he believes that anyone who has been convicted of anything having to do with marijuana possession or use should have their criminal record wiped clean. This means that those who were convicted for marijuana use and possession in the past can legally say they have never been arrested or in prison, if marijuana is their only offense. 

Despite this, Biden believes cannabis can cause harm to some people. He states there is scientific evidence that marijuana has an impact on some individual’s mental health and wants to continue to study the effects of marijuana on the human mind. 

To summarize, Biden has drawn the line at simple decriminalization, expunging past convictions, federal rescheduling, legalizing cannabis for medical purposes and letting states set their own policies.

President Donald Trump (Republican)

President Donald Trump is seeking reelection. His views on marijuana have not changed. According to Marc Lotter, director of strategic communications for the Trump 2020 effort, Trump believes marijuana should remain illegal and criminalized on the federal level. 

President Trump has stated multiple times in 2017 that he believes he has the power to ignore state-level marijuana laws. However, his administration has not yet carried out any major enforcement activities against state-legal marijuana businesses. His statements also encompass recreational policies on the state level. 

That also applies to recreational policies and businesses that aren’t even covered under the congressionally adopted rider, which has been part of federal law since 2014.

Libertarian Jo Jorgensen

Jo Jorgensen has not spoken up much about the policy, however she stated that she believes marijuana should be legalized and fully decriminalized. She calls for the immediate release of anyone serving time solely for drug offenses. 

She has stated that she doesn’t care if people use marijuana as long as they are safe and peaceful.

As part of the Libertarian Party, Jorgensen seeks a world where the citizens have power over their own lives and should not be forced to sacrifice their values for the benefit of others. As libertarian, she respects and defends everyone’s rights. 

Green Party Candidate Howie Hawkins 

Howie Hawkins is very outspoken on his view of marijuana. He is calling for the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana, and wants to transition the view of drug abuse from a criminal offense to a medical issue. 

He advocates for the following policies, according to his website: 

  • End the War on Drugs by redirecting the allocated funds toward expanding research, education, counseling, and treatment.
  • Legalize cannabis 
  • Grant amnesty to and release from confinement all people who are either incarcerated or awaiting trial for the use, sale, or cultivation of cannabis 
  • Clear criminal records of those convicted for cannabis use
  • Prohibit big pharma, liquor, tobacco, and industrialized agribusiness from exploiting cannabis legalization. 

The Green Party promotes green politics, specifically environmentalism; nonviolence; social justice; participatory, grassroots democracy; gender equality; LGBTQ rights; anti-war; anti-racism and ecosocialism.

The presidential election is on Nov. 3, 2020. We at DC Alchemy urge you to participate in your democratic freedom and vote for the candidate you most believe in.