The war on weed is already coming to a close in America with recreational marijuana use legal in 11 states and medical use legal in 22 more on top of that. Whoever receives the Democratic nomination, however, may play an important role in hastening or delaying full legalization.
It’s especially interesting for us across the pond, because the rate at which marijuana is normalised in the states gives us a sort of barometer for how far away we might be from legalisation in the UK. With that in mind, we’ve gone through each of the democratic candidates and assessed their marijuana policy as well as their personal usage.
Bernie, as always, is pretty fiercely progressive on Marijuana policy. Not only would Bernie completely legalise marijuana usage, he also proposes retroactively expunging sentences for marijuana possession. Power to the people!
Personal usage: Coughed a lot
Bernie claimed to have tried smoking a couple times in the early 70s but “it didn’t work for [him]” and caused him to cough a lot. Bless him.
Policy: Decriminalisation over Legalisation
Joe has a well-documented past of being anti-drugs. Biden signed the 1994 crime bill and continues to trade in the idea of marijuana as a “gateway drug”. It looks like Biden’s decriminalisation policy is more a foot-draggingacceptance of the current climate than a heartfelt belief.
Personal usage: Hates crutches
Biden is devoutly straight edge. Having never had a drop of beer let alone a toke. Biden once told a reporter that: “I don’t use anything that could be a crutch. I use football as a crutch and motorcycle jumping and skiing – I ski like a madman. But those are crutches over which I have some control. I’m against chemical crutches.” In fairness to him, it is hard to ski with crutches.
Whilst Lizzie, up until 2016, was not particularly supportive of marijuana policy, she’s done a hard U and is now pushing progressive policy. Similar to Bernie, Elizabeth backs legalisation as well as expunging of sentences; she famously tweeted “nobody should go to jail for a joint”.
Personal usage: “No.”
The only prominent time Lizzie was asked about her personal usage, she replied with a one-word, hard “No.” All the cool kids are doing it, Liz.
Ol’ Pete never had to grapple with marijuana policy much as mayor. He has, however, been pretty strident in his support since coming on to the national stage. Pete’s proposal to reform drug law includes marijuana legalisation, but also decriminalisation of broader drug possession. The proposal is a bid to reduce unjust incarcerations in black communities. Right on, Petey.
Personal Usage: More than once
Pete’s autobiography, Shortest Way Home, coyly admits that in terms of joints Pete has smoked its “not many but more than once”. He’s also stated that he didn’t smoke too much in college. Do we think he doth protest too much?
Policy: Let the states decide
Senator Klobuchar has been comparatively tight-lipped on marijuana policy compared to others in the race. As of Feb 22nd, however, Amy has claimed she backs full legalisation of marijuana. Her record shows an in-character moderacy on the topic; she has backed the STATES bill, allowing individual states to establish their own policy on marijuana but abstained from the Marijuana Justice Act.
Personal Usage: an enigma wrapped in a shroud of mystery.
Presumably due to the fact that she has only become a major player in this most recent democratic race, Amy has never been asked directly on her marijuana usage. However in 1998 she claimed “I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I believe when you look at across the world what’s been happening people have realized that legalizing drugs is not the answer”, suggesting that she’s not been involved in games of puff puff pass at parties.
Policy: Recently Reformed
Michael Bloomberg (AKA Chancellor Palpatine) has a pretty chequered past when it comes to marijuana policy and its enforcement; famously implementing the fundamentally racist ‘stop and frisk’ policy in New York in his time as mayor. Just last year Bloomberg was calling legalisation “perhaps the stupidest thing anybody has ever done”. As of (at the time of writing) last night, however, Bloomberg has apparently decided to make friends with the organ grinder. Bloomberg battled Bernie over marijuana policy in the South Carolina debate, also calling for sentence expungement and legalisation.
Personal Usage: sinner to saint
In another strange twist for the former mayor, Bloomberg is the only candidate to actively brag about his marijuana usage, saying: “You bet I did. And I enjoyed it” and then presumably dished out high-fives and fist bumps to all of his entourage. Despite that comment (and suddenly last night’s debate) Bloomberg has been the candidate to most staunchly disavow marijuana usage. Pick a lane, man.