The Democratic Party might have something positive to offer after all of these years.
Marijuana legalization has now become a reality in American politics. Thanks to states like Colorado and Washington, who legalized marijuana via referendum in 2012, 10 states and Washington D.C. have followed suit in legalizing the plant.
Mainstream Democrats at the federal level have caught up to this trend. Reason highlighted this when breaking down the growing acceptance of marijuana legalization among the 2020 hopefuls in the Democratic Party.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made an unprecedented step in endorsing marijuana legalization in 2015, which has spurred other Democrats in Congress to consider the issue. Democratic Senators Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand are some of the notable incumbents who support marijuana legalization. Congressional contrarian Tulsi Gabbard and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke also support legalization.
Of the mainline Democrats, Cory Booker has been leading the charge for marijuana legalization in the Senate. Booker has constantly teamed up with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul on the topic of criminal justice reform. Booker is also the champion of the Marijuana Justice Act, which “prohibits and reduces certain federal funds for a state without a statute legalizing marijuana if the Bureau of Justice Assistance determines that such a state has a disproportionate arrest rate or disproportionate incarceration rate for marijuana offenses.”
On the other hand, Joe Biden, who’s seen as a 2020 frontrunner, has not caught up with the times. Joe Biden is a seasoned drug warrior who has championed some of the worst mass incarceration schemes like the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Biden channeled his inner Boomer by opposing marijuana legalization because he sees it as a “gateway drug.” Indeed, there are still some lagging factions with the Democratic Party that have not embraced the issue.
For all its faults on matters of economic freedom, the Democratic Party appears to be on the right side of the drug policy issue. Since it was initiated in the 1970s, the Drug War has been a disaster. Mass incarceration, civil liberties violations, and a hefty bill of $1 trillion have been the end results of this government program. Now, we have a rare opportunity to phase out this abominable program.
A step in the right direction, drug legalization opens new avenues for expanding freedom. There is still much work to be done, as many states have used legalization as a means to fill up government coffers and protect first entrants in the marijuana sector. Nevertheless, this is where libertarians and other free-market fellow travelers can position themselves accordingly by proposing full-scale market liberalization in this sector.
In the day of outrage-filled politics, marijuana legalization is welcome news.