Cory Booker Makes Federal Marijuana Legalization a Central Campaign Push

Democrats approached the issue carefully in 2016. Now six presidential candidates are all-in for complete reform.


Cory Booker

If you need an example of how much public opinion has shifted on marijuana legalization, check out Sen. Cory Booker's Twitter feed, where the Democratic presidential candidate has turned his federal pot decriminalization bill into a central plank of his platform.

He's not alone: Several other declared Democratic candidates have signed on to Booker's reintroduction yesterday of the Marijuana Justice Act. The bill would completely strike marijuana off of Schedule I of the Controlled Substance Act, ending its status as a prohibited drug on the federal level. The bill also ends federal bans on import and export of marijuana. It would order the expungement of the records of people with previous federal convictions for marijuana use or possession, and it would threaten to withhold Justice Department grant funding to states that have a "disproportionate" rate of marijuana arrests or jail sentences for minorities or poor people.

When Booker introduced this bill in 2017, it went nowhere. Now he's introducing it again, and his six co-sponsors include fellow presidential candidates Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D–N.Y.). (The other two co-sponsors are Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both Democrats of Oregon.) Another presidential candidate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D–Hawaii), previously co-sponsored the House version of the bill.

Booker is also using this bill to promote his presidential run, telling folks to text to a number to get more information, which is a typical tactic to harvest phone numbers for future campaign messages.

Compare this push to the Democratic Party's official platform in 2016, which merely recommended downgrading marijuana so that it didn't have the same classification on the drug schedule as heroin. Bernie Sanders' supporters had to fight for just that. Striking it entirely from the Controlled Substances Act was not on the table, and the goal was to give states some space to experiment.

And that change, as Reason's Jacob Sullum noted back in 2015, was itself a huge deal. Hillary Clinton was ambivalent about full decriminalization, and Sanders' pro-legalization position was almost unprecedented among major-party presidential candidates.

Now six Democratic candidates are looking to completely wipe marijuana out of the Controlled Substance Act, and Booker is actively using that push to draw attention to his campaign.

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  1. “and Sanders’ pro-legalization position was almost unprecedented among major-party presidential candidates.”

    Ron Paul called for full repeal of federal drug laws in 2008 and 2012…..

    1. But Ron Paul was a racist so he doesn’t count. /sarc

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    2. Nice how Reason is trying to memory-hole that.

      1. Conservatives never liked Paul. It makes sense

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      2. “almost unprecedented”

  2. Will it be a felony to smoke it within 15 feet of a building entrance?

    1. Democrats will legalize weed but set the smoking age at 100 years old.

      1. And put a 500% tax on it. And a pile of growing regulations. and a bigger pile of sales regulations.

        The black market is highly underrated.

  3. Democrats: Behind the curve again.

    I mean seriously, whoever would have thought twenty years ago that Republicans would be at the forefront of scaling back the drug war? It’s almost like the parties are switching places. Republicans are not die hard protectionists with unions on their side, while Democrats are frightened of change and want to institute wage and price controls.

    1. Like they did in the deep south in the civil rights era!!

      /crazed prog

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    3. Republicans would be at the forefront of scaling back the drug war?

      They are? So all of those state referenda legalizing pot, they were pushed by Republicans?

      1. TX was the first state to begin criminal justice reform and Trump was the first president not to go after the marijuana industry in states that legalized it and the first president to pass federal criminal justice reform. There is an argument to be made.

        Can you make the counter argument?

        1. He’s going to call you a racist and advocate for importing illegals who rape children. Thats the Little Jeffy way. Oh, and he has no real arguments. Just a bunch of tired old canards that have long been discredited.

        2. I can and I live in CO. Trump rescinded the Obama guidance to prosecutors re marijuana. One of our senators had to put a block on all DoJ judicial nominations until Trump promised he would not appoint US attorneys who would prosecute marijuana where states had legalized it for med or rec.

          And it’s the R’s in Congress who have prevented a banking safe harbor for pot biz in states where its legal. Which is easily the main problem for those biz as people have been killed in armed robberies targeting their cash. The bill has taken six years to finally get a hearing – in order to get buried in committee – and even now only a handful of R’s have cosponsored (mostly in states that have legalized). R’s are fucking useless even when the issue can be presented as a state-level concern.

          1. Oh no, you brought facts and reason to here. They’re not gonna like that.

    4. Good point, just look at all those red states legalizing weed and national republicans calling for full legalization

    5. Legal history of cannabis in the United States

      Good old Progressives in the Democratic and Republican Parties went after Marijuana in the early 20th Century.

      These Lefties would not be deterred even after the Prohibition was repealed and the Marihuana tax Act of 1937 was declared unconstitutional.

      The Controlled Substances Act was passed by a Democratic Party majority in the House and Senate and signed by Nixon in 1970.

      Guess which race of Americans smoked the most weed in 1970?

      1. The public is at fault for keeping marijuana illegal and criminalized for the last hundred years, or however it has been. Even the last few years, there have been votes for legalization and most people vote against it. I don’t get it, but it’s the way it is and don’t blame the politicians.

  4. On one hand, good. On the other hand, they’re going to fuck it up. I actually probably think this should be a decriminalization at the national level, and then leave the various states to have their own implementation of the laws.

    1. Yeah. Remove it from Schedule 1 and then stop.

  5. At least we’ll be able to toke in the gulags!

  6. Trump could steal their thunder on this, make Team Blue look, you know, conservative on the drug war. Sadly, the Prez is a Nancy Reagan type drug warrior. Because he cares.

    1. Yes, but he’s also an attention whore who likes to get credit for things. Could go either way.


    2. I don’t think Nancy Reagan would support not enforcing drug laws in states that have legalized them and criminal justice reform.

      1. I can’t figure out why the Presidents wife’s opinion matters outside of their influence on their husband.

        1. I can’t understand why Trump gets compared to Nancy Reagan on drug legalization?

          1. Me either, but in my case it’s because Nancy was into astrology and after that I stopped paying attention to her.

            1. There is a story about her nickname around Hollywood that always peaked by curiosity….

              1. ‘Take in the butt’ Nancy?

      2. You’re right. He’s not as bad as that. And he could make a big splash around election time, showman that he is. Let us hope for change.

        1. ‘Always bet on orange’.

    3. Goddamn if that wouldn’t be perfect, but I suspect he’s not shrewd enough to see it and the people he listens to are too entrenched in the drug war.

  7. Good for him. Let’s hope more do the same.

  8. Haha. Trump is gonna push federal marijuana de-criminalization months before the election.

    Democrats in power in the House will have to sign it or it will further blow their election scheme out of the water.

    1. That would be a brilliant strategy. The stupid party will find a way to fuck it up.

    2. It wouldn’t surprise me. It wouldn’t lose him a single vote. Mind you, it wouldn’t necessarily gain him any. But it’s the kind of bouncy castle thinking he seems predisposed to, and the arch conservatives in the GOP, who would be most opposed to such a thing, never gave a damn about him anyway..

  9. Libertarian moment.

  10. Cory Booker is a senator.
    Bernie Sanders is a senator.
    Kamala Harris is a senator.

    Propose a bill, you twats

    1. Rand Paul did in January. He tried to add an amendment to the budget. To his credit Booker co-sponsored the amendment.

      1. They could write a bill.

        Hell, I’ll do it for them:
        “The possession and consumption of marijuana is from this date forward legal in the US”

        Boom. Done. Let’s vote.

  11. Gov. Evers of Wisconsin has proposed legalization of medical marijuana and small amounts of recreational marijuana. This is opposed by the Republican control legislature ( and likely their donors in the Tavern League). I would hope that liberals, conservatives, and libertarians would agree its time to move towards legalization in Wisconsin. We should not have to wait for the 2020 election.

  12. Bong Hits for Booker

  13. Hillary Dems wanted to ban electric power plants but were OK with kids rotting in jail for weed while lawyers bankrupted their parents. When McGovern ran, many of us kids imagined a nonexistent legalization plank. In fact the 1968 Dem platform looked for ways to hail people over plant leaves. Four years later the option to vote Libertarian appeared. Suddenly women had reproductive rights, other Comstock laws were repealed, and mystical fanatics began murdering doctors and calling for a Constitutional ban on birth control. To this day Republican platforms struggle for ways to rob, jail and shoot people over plant leaves. Libertarian spoiler votes are what brought about almost all improvement in he laws.

    1. You say a lot of stupid shit.

  14. Get high. Vote democrat.

  15. Spartacus reeks of toxic masculinity !

  16. Oh, look: Spartacus is trying to jump in front of the legalization bandwagon. Did he do a goddamned thing about it when he was the mayor of a city?


  17. I have to say that’s a smart move to get votes by Cory the bookie and the rest of the presumed candidates in the ‘Crat Party.
    They probably have secured ’bout 25 millions votes with it. In ’92 Clinton probably got 5 million votes after he said he smoked Pot in college. Obama in ’08 may have received ’bout 10 million after he said the same.

  18. So he supports pot but wants to end eating meat. Sounds a lot like NYC saying OK to pot but no to a large soda.

    Idiotic, random and completely unnecessary government involvement in any of it.

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