In a bold move that contradicts recent political practice, leadership of the Democratic Party has openly endorsed ‘a pathway to reasoned marijuana legalization’ through its new policy platform document.
Pro-cannabis supporters in the U.S. now include one of the two mainstream political parties, as Democrats are now calling for a national agenda on this issue that would lead to eventual legalization across the country. That comes as a surprise, since major parties have generally avoided taking such risks in the past, even if many politicians quietly admit that current laws are untenable. Then again, with popular support for more lenient classification of cannabis at an all-time high level, the move is quite logical for a political organization that wants to target young and progressive voters.
The turnaround came when the party’s platform drafting committee decided to include an amendment directly addressing this issue. The amendment cites the discrepancy between state and federal laws on marijuana and asks the federal government to stop treating this plant and its derivatives as a Class 1 controlled substance. The idea is to outline a framework that would eventually lead to adoption of a unified policy, even if such a legislative solution is not likely to be adopted soon. The initiative doesn’t prevent individual states from pursuing their own solutions, and in fact may add some momentum to ballot initiatives at the state level.
Most observers believe that Senator Bernie Sanders was the main force behind the policy change, personifying a more liberal current within the Democratic Party. It is also very likely that some of the states that support legal marijuana have lobbied for the amendment in order to align their local interests with national policy. Whatever the reasons, Democrats have recognized that marijuana laws are ripe for rewriting and want to join the pro-legalization side in time to reap electoral benefits. If they remain faithful to this platform, they could amplify the voices for reform and accelerate the process.
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