Tag: Cory Gardner

Bernie Sanders- Joe Biden Task Force Members Advocate For Cannabis Legalization

As Joe Biden campaigns against president Donald Trump, a task force comprised of members of his and Bernie Sanders’ supporters are meeting to discuss various issues. Biden, hoping to avoid a similar fate as 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, has taken the step of forming the task force to try and bridget he divide between progressive and moderate wings of the party.

As Marijuana Moment has covered, the criminal justice task force has been debating cannabis legalization. Progressives hope that the former vice president will get with the times, a supermajority of the party, and a strong majority of American voters, and move from merely supporting decriminalization to supporting legalization:

Most of the group—which consists of advisors appointed by both Biden and former primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)—support ending cannabis prohibition, and advocates have held out hope that they would recommend that Biden adopt the policy platform in the run-up to the November election.

While some members have publicly talked about the issue since joining the task force, including Linn County, Iowa Supervisor Stacey Walker, who recently commented on the need for reform in light of racial disparities in marijuana criminalization, a new report from Politico appears to be the first confirmation that the group itself is actively considering a formal recommendation on the policy change.

From Politico’s report:

Multiple people said marijuana policy has been discussed on the criminal justice panel, one of the policy groups of the unity task force. Sanders appointees have advocated for legalization. Some Biden appointees personally support legalizing pot and have debated putting the policy in the panel’s recommendations to the former vice president, according to two people familiar with its deliberations.

Biden supports decriminalization, but has resisted calls to make cannabis legal—a reform endorsed by the majority of his primary opponents, including vice presidential contenders Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. The criminalization of marijuana has contributed to the country’s mass incarceration problem, disproportionately affecting black men.

Chiraag Bains, a co-chair of the criminal justice task force tapped by Sanders, said Biden should “end the War on Drugs, including by legalizing marijuana.” He said those are his personal views, however, and he was not speaking as a leader of the task force.

It will be interesting to see what direction Joe Biden plans to take, especially if his pick to be his running mate supports legalization, like frontrunner Kamala Harris. With a big lead in the polls, the Democrat may want to play it safe, but he’ll be playing it wrong if he thinks opposing legalization is safe.

Biden will run the risk of getting outflanked by Donald Trump on the issue, who not only wants to win for himself, but may want to throw a lifeline to Republican Colorado Senator Cory Gardner who could use a win on cannabis. Only time will tell, but both presidential candidates would be wise to adhere to the will of the voters and call for an end to the failed and racist policy of cannabis prohibition.

Would Donald Trump Sign a Cannabis Legalization Bill Passed by Congress?

Donald Trump’s position on cannabis has been tough to pin down. During the 2016 campaign, he stated that he supported medical use and that he was a believer in states’ rights regarding legalization. However, the hiring of Reefer Madness prohibitionist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, signing statements regarding his administration’s ultimate right to enforce federal cannabis laws regardless of state legalization laws, and comments by members of his staff, have caused confusion.

That confusion has only been exacerbated by a recent interview of Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who has a an anti-cannabis history, and the ensuring Twitter beef that sprung out of the interview with reporter Matt Laslo. Marijuana Moment reported:

President Donald Trump’s stance on marijuana legalization became the jumping off point for a spat between a top White House aide, Republican operatives and a reporter on Thursday after Chief of Staff Mark Meadows laughed off a question about the prospects of broad cannabis reform advancing before the election in November.

But the controversy wasn’t solely about the administration’s position on legalization; rather the dispute centered on how freelance reporter Matt Laslo characterized the conversation on Twitter, where he said that Meadows suggested pro-cannabis reform Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) “has been misleading voters on marijuana” and that “Trump has no plan to lift a finger on cannabis legalization or even normalization.”

Laslo also shared audio from the interview and wrote that it showed Meadows “mockingly laugh when I ask if Trump plans to carry through on his promise to [Gardner] to relax federal marijuana laws.”

Some Republicans pushed back on Laslo’s characterization of Meadows’ response and the implications that Colorado Senator Cory Gardner has been misleading his constituents. Gardner is seen as very vulnerable Republican who the Democrats hope to defeat this November. With legalization very popular in Colorado, the issue is an important issue for his re-election prospects.

Laslo responded to his Republican critics on Twitter:

As Politico reported, any type of cannabis legalization legislation would help Senator Gardner, but he hasn’t been able to move the needle in the Republican-controlled Senate:

But so far, the GOP’s most ardent promoter of cannabis in Congresshasn’t delivered any legislative wins for the state’s $1.7 billion, rapidly growing cannabis industry, where marijuana was legalized in 2012. The two major cannabis bills Gardner sponsors — one to increase access to banking and capital for the cannabis industry and one to codify federal protections for states that choose to legalize marijuana — have not advanced in the Senate at all, despite the banking bill passing the House with a bipartisan majority last fall. Gardner does not support any bill that would legalize cannabis nationwide.

“At some point, I have to go to Cory Gardner and say, ‘Why should the industry continue to support you?’” said Marijuana Policy Project’s Don Murphy, a former Republican lawmaker in Maryland. “I know you’re trying, but you’re not getting anything.”

With so many issues facing our nation, it seems unlikely that cannabis legalization legislation will be passed by Congress. With a lot of negative stories dominating the news cycle, it would certainly benefit Trump and Gardner to have a feel-good cannabis story make some headlines, but each day that passes, it seems more and more unlikely this term. We’ll see what the next four years will hold.