Next year’s presidential election is looking to be red and blue, with green all over. Pretty much every democratic presidential hopeful and their mother has come out in favor of cannabis legalization. That one bald white guy has and that one bald black guy has and so has that one young dude and the woman who looks younger than she is, and also that one dude who apparently likes to kiss hair did too.
But perhaps the most detailed plan so far among the candidates is the one released this week by Kirsten Gillibrand, junior U.S. Senator from the great state of New York and heir to the iron throne once warmed by Hillary Clinton.
Killibrand says, if president, she intends to deschedule cannabis, expunge criminal records for those convicted of cannabis-related crimes, tax cannabis to correct wrongs done by the drug war, and overhaul the medical marijuana program to create greater access for patients.
The only criticism we have right off the bat for this detailed plan is that it’s not all that detailed. In her brief manifesto published on Medium, the senator says that if she becomes president, she “will immediately deschedule marijuana as a controlled substance.”
She doesn’t actually say how she will do this immediately, especially given that even a unilateral administrative mood would have to pass through a complicated process involving multiple federal agencies, according to the Brookings Institute.
In her incredibly ambitious proposal, Gillibrand only once mentions working with legislators, saying that she will “work with Congress to pass an excise tax on the sale of non-prescription marijuana products” and that “the revenue generated from that tax will be directed into a trust fund that supports programs — like job training and education — for communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana laws in the past.” That sounds exactly what the currently Republican-controlled Senate would want to work with a democratic president on.
Even though it’s not a plan exactly, more like a plan to have a plan, or maybe even a pipe dream, it’s nice to see such a strong stance from a serious presidential candidate. Take, for instance, these fighting words:
“The unfair enforcement of our current marijuana laws is a continuation of the institutional racism that has defined our criminal justice system for decades. This vestige of the War on Drugs has irreparably harmed too many lives and communities — predominantly black and brown ones.”
So, she might be blowing smoke, but at least it smells a little sweeter and more dank than the other presidential candidates.
Photo via Flickr user personaldemocracy