With the 2020 United States Presidential Election still over 20 months away, a handful of presidential hopefuls have been eagerly announcing their candidacies, this time, perhaps, earlier than ever before. A little over a week ago, Corey Booker announced his 2020 run for the presidency, while simultaneously calling for marijuana reform, making the issue central to his presidential platform. Booker officially announced his campaign in a recent Tom Joyner Morning Show Interview. Watch it for yourself, here.
The former mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Booker has been serving as the Democratic Representative in Congress for New Jersey since 2013.
The Congressman’s opinion on marijuana legalization is pretty obvious once you take a look at his political record. Booker has supported efforts to make both medical and recreational cannabis legal in states across the country and on the federal level. Moreover, he has been a staunch advocate for the rights of medical marijuana patients.
Heavily critical of the war on drugs, Booker has been a staunch advocate for criminal justice reform throughout his political career. He has sponsored numerous pro-cannabis bills in the past, including the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, first introduced in 2015, intended to protect medical marijuana patients and businesses from being targeted by the federal government. On the subject of the CARERS Act, Booker said,
“We need policies that empower states to legalize medical marijuana if they so choose – recognizing that there are Americans who can realize real medical benefits if this treatment option is brought out of the shadows.”
In 2017, Booker co-sponsored the Marijuana Justice Act, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has yet to announce his potential 2020 candidacy, and fellow 2020 candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Ca), and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). If passed successfully, the Marijuana Justice Act would amend the Controlled Substances Act that has been in place since 1971, removing cannabis from its current classification as Schedule I, and decriminalizing the import, export, and distribution of marijuana. To read the actual wording of the bill for yourself, check it out here.
Booker has stated multiple times that cannabis legalization should apply retroactively to those who are already locked up for low-level marijuana-related offenses. In reference to the Marijuana Justice Act, in a recent press release, Booker said,
“Descheduling marijuana and applying that change retroactively to people currently serving time for marijuana offenses is a necessary step in correcting this unjust system. States have so far led the way in reforming our criminal justice system and it’s about time the federal government catches up and begins to assert leadership.”
Booker has clear that his stance on marijuana legalization is firmly rooted in his greater vision for criminal justice reform, ending the war on drugs, which has disproportionately affected people of color. According to Booker, “It means changing our drug laws, ending the prohibition against marijuana, which has led-black folks are no different in their usage rates or even the dealing rates but are almost four times more likely to be incarcerated for marijuana. We do not have equal justice under the law.”