Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke stopped by at an Oakland, California dispensary to highlight the urgency of legalizing cannabis at the federal level and granting clemency for those who are currently serving time in jail on cannabis charges.
O’Rourke led a roundtable discussion with local industry leaders at Blunts + Moore dispensary near the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The Texan unveiled his plan to award “drug war justice grants” to people who are imprisoned for nonviolent federal and state cannabis offenses. He also wants to ensure that cannabis businesses have access to banking services—and block the federal government from using minor cannabis charges as justification to deport undocumented immigrants.
Legalizing marijuana isn’t enough. We also need to make sure those most impacted by the War on Drugs have a chance to benefit from this growing industry. Thanks to everyone at Equity First Alliance and Cage-Free Cannabis in L.A. for sharing their stories with me today. pic.twitter.com/BJDjNLr4gg
— Beto O’Rourke (@BetoORourke) September 18, 2019
“We need to not only end the prohibition on marijuana, but also repair the damage done to the communities of color disproportionately locked up in our criminal justice system or locked out of opportunity because of the War on Drugs,” O’Rourke said in a news release. “These inequalities have compounded for decades, as predominantly white communities have been given the vast majority of lucrative business opportunities, while communities of color still face over-policing and criminalization. It’s our responsibility to begin to remedy the injustices of the past and help the people and communities most impacted by this misguided war.”
According to Tom Angell of Marijuana Moment, O’Rourke has the most “far-reaching” legalization plan of all current presidential candidates. “His direct grant payments to people harmed by the drug war is unique,” Angell pointed out. “It goes much further than the restorative justice measures put forth by other contenders that focus more on reinvestment at the community level.”
O’Rourke also takes a strong stance in the fierce gun control debate—floating the idea of entirely eliminating AR-15s and AK-47s from the picture. All top-performing Democratic presidential candidates have presented their own versions of cannabis legalization, except for Joe Biden, who would decriminalize only. But O’Rourke’s stance would treat cannabis in a similar manner to alcohol and impose a federal tax.