A proposal calling on the Democratic Party to support marijuana legalization as an official 2020 policy plank was shot down. During a Democratic National Committee (DNC) meeting on Monday, delegates rejected the proposal, keeping the language used in an earlier draft platform.
Initially, several delegates seemed to support the proposal, saying that marijuana legalization and putting an end to the war on drugs will help resolve racial injustices and boost the economy. However, after a discussion of the measure, delegates rejected it on a 50 to 106 vote.
What’s in the document?
That document expresses the need for decriminalizing cannabis possession, automatic expungement of previous marijuana convictions, and federal rescheduling through executive action. It also seeks to legalize medical cannabis and allows states to set their own laws and policies. However, the document fails to endorse recreational cannabis legalization.
The language in the document very closely reflects the recommendations given earlier this month by the criminal justice reform task force organized by Presidential aspirant Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“We cannot ignore the fact that the current marijuana criminalization policy has in too many cases been used to target people of colour. They are unfairly and disproportionately six times more likely to be arrested than other citizens,” said delegate Dennis Obduskey who brought in the amendment.
Stacey Walker, the Iowa County Supervisor, was a member of the Biden-Sanders criminal justice task force. In support of the proposal, he said black people are “overpoliced and brutalized over the same trace amounts of marijuana that white kids in this country are using without fear of repercussion or consequence.”
I’m imploring all of you to approach this with an open mind and heart. Do something big here. Take one small but meaningful step toward changing the course of history. If my black life matters to you, you will consider this amendment. We want to get in good trouble today, and I urge you to do the right thing and support it, Obduskey said.
More favorable votes
While the proposal was defeated, it received “more favorable votes that a proposal for the party to support Medicare For All as part of its 2020 platform.”
Louisiana Senator Cleo Fields (D) opposed the amendment saying delegates should “respect the efforts of our unity task force that produced it by retaining its current form.”
Finally, the platform committee approved a draft plan with the following part:
Democrats will decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it through executive action on the federal level. We will support the legalization of medical marijuana, and believe states should be able to make their own decisions about recreational use. The Justice Department should not launch federal prosecutions of conduct that is legal at the state level. All past criminal convictions for cannabis use should be automatically expunged.
In 2016, the DNC adopted a similar plank declaring that “states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so.”