On Wednesday, Senator Bernie Sanders announced his plan to legalize weed by executive order if he were to become president. Like several other Democratic candidates (or all of them—except for one) who intend to legalize weed, many presidential hopefuls have wide-sweeping plans to expunge the records of those convicted of weed-related crimes, or invest in weed research.
And while some candidates prioritize criminal justice reform, others hone in on the bottom line (ie. tax revenue!). Below you’ll find all 20 of the candidates’ plans to legalize weed if elected. Beginning with the top-polling candidates, and then in alphabetical order, here are their prospective policies:
- Would not legalize recreational weed; would leave the decision up to states.
- Would decriminalize weed by ending prison sentences for those convicted for drugs alone and expunge prior convictions.
- Remove weed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which is a classification reserved for drugs with the highest potential for abuse (and a category that also includes heroin). Would reclassify weed as a Schedule II drug to permit more research.
- Create more funding for federal, state, and local drug courts.
- “Eliminate incarceration for drug possession, reduce sentences for other drug offenses and apply these reductions retroactively, legalize marijuana, and expunge past convictions.”
- While Harris has not provided an explicit plan, in July, she introduced the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act; the wide-sweeping act would expunge marijuana-convictions and create a 5% sales tax on weed and weed products to create a trust fund for those impacted by the War on Drugs.
- The act would also help create funding for cannabis-related businesses and provide non-discrimination protections for those who use or possess weed. Lastly, the act would require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect data on the demographics of the industry to ensure a diverse workforce in the cannabis industry.
- Would expunge weed-related convictions.
- Supports “banning the box” which would limit employers from asking job-seekers about past convictions early on in the application/interview process.
- Has previously backed bills that would reclassify weed as a Schedule II drug and ensure cannabis-related businesses had fair access to banks.
- Has expressed support for removing weed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.
- In 2018, backed a bill that would amend the Controlled Substances Act and limit federal interference in states where weed is legalized.
No plan provided.
- Would expunge records and help those convicted of weed-related crimes petition to have convictions sealed.
- Supports banning the box to prevent possible discrimination during the job interview processes.
- “Restore justice to individuals and communities that have been devastated by the War on Drugs.”
- Would extend clemency to individuals serving “excessive” sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.
- Has called for an end to mandatory minimums sentences for nonviolent drug offenses and reinvest in communities impacted by drugs.
- In February, also introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, which would accomplish many of Booker’s stated goals, in addition to creating federal funds to change cannabis laws in states where those laws disproportionately affect low-income communities or people of color.
Bill de Blasio
No plan provided (but recently backed the legalization of recreational weed).
No plan provided.
No plan provided but has supported expunging records of those convicted of weed-related crimes.
- Would remove weed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and expunge records of convictions.
- “Create strong federal guidelines and taxation policies to support decisions at the state level.”
- Would impose a 25% tax on weed “with revenue dedicated to grants for state public defenders, medical and public health research, addiction treatment, and education and job training programs.”
- Supports banning the box in the job interview process.
- Would remove weed from Schedule I.
- Recently introduced the Marijuana Data Collection Act which would collect research on the “health, safety, and economic” effects of weed.
- Would remove weed under the Controlled Substances Act and expunge all non-violent weed-related convictions.
- “Establish a national process to make marijuana production and consumption clean, safe, and sustainable.”
- Would invest in weed medical research and expand healthcare coverage insurance to cover its medicinal use.
- Would tax weed’s recreational use; the revenue will be allocated to a trust fund to support educational programs in communities impacted by marijuana laws.
- Give cannabis-related businesses fair access to banks and provide “access to capital” for weed businesses in underserved communities.
No plan provided, but during a recent Reddit AMA, expressed a desire to reclassify weed, enable the FDA to study weed, and expunge records for those with low-level, non-violent weed-related convictions.
No plan provided, but recently backed a bill that would pardon those with misdemeanor weed convictions.
No plan provided.
- “End the prohibition of marijuana and expunge the arrest records of those incarcerated for possessing it.”
No plan provided.
- Would distribute weed tax revenue into “progressive causes” including universal health care, student loan forgiveness, free college tuition, a $15 minimum wage, and K-12 education.
- Would expunge federal convictions for weed use or possession.
- Would permit some non-violent drug offenders probation and “potential early release.”
- “Provide regulation and oversight of the marijuana industry.”
- “Generate revenue.”