- Carlo Allegri/Reuters
- Sen. Cory Booker, who’s led the charge in the Senate for marijuana legalization, was highly disappointed the issue was not discussed Wednesday night in the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate.
- “I am absolutely disappointed that wasn’t an issue when you see voters turning out this issue all over the country,” Booker said.
- Booker said the federal prohibition of marijuana was a “crisis” for the US because it prevented people from getting “urgently needed medication” and had resulted in the disproportionate incarceration of minorities and low-income people.
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MIAMI – Sen. Cory Booker on Wednesday told INSIDER he’s disappointed marijuana legalization was not discussed during the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate.
“I am absolutely disappointed that wasn’t an issue when you see voters turning out this issue all over the country,” Booker said after taking the debate stage in Miami with nine other candidates.
The senator from New Jersey said that “as a guy who has one of the boldest bills” on this issue, the Marijuana Justice Act, he would’ve appreciated the opportunity to lay out his vision to voters on the national stage.
“I would like to see the federal government end its making marijuana illegal and pull back and let the states do what the want,” Booker said. “But I am also one of those people that thinks you cannot talk about marijuana legalization if in the same sentence you’re not talking about expunging the records of those Americans who have criminal convictions for doing things that two of the last three presidents admitted to doing.”
Booker said the ongoing federal prohibition was a “crisis” for the US not only because “incredibly we have a country where sick people can’t access urgently needed medication” but also because “we have the over incarceration, particularly of low-income people, particularly of African-Americans, who have been unjustly persecuted in the war on drugs.”
The senator went on to say the war on drugs was actually a “war on people – and certain people over others.”
Roughly 62% of Americans in a fall 2018 Pew Research Center survey said they believed marijuana should be legalized at the federal level.
Eleven states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and dozens of states have authorized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes on some level. But marijuana remains illegal at the federal level.