Photo: ShutterstockThe camps of presumed 2020 Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden and former rival Sen. Bernie Sanders have come together to hammer out joint policy recommendations to unite the moderate and progressive wings of the party — but marijuana was one issue they could not agree on.
Sanders vowed to legalize marijuana via executive order on his first day in office. Biden, however, has been reluctant to call for legalizing pot.
As a compromise, the “Unity Task Force” instead calls for rescheduling the drug and decriminalizing its use, legalizing it at the federal level only for medical use.
The difference is this: decriminalization would only relax penalties for marijuana use and possession. Full legalization would open the doors for marijuana to be regulated and taxed on the federal level.
The task force also calls for the federal government leaving it up to individual states to decide whether to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and advises the Justice Department not to investigate marijuana-related conduct that is legal on a state level.
Additionally, it encourages states to use taxes raised from legal marijuana to help those harmed by the War on Drugs, which have disproportionately been people of color.
You can read more about the Unity Task Force’s marijuana proposals here.
Sanders tweeted that he supports the proposals, but admitted it fell short of what he wanted.
“Though the end result isn’t what I or my supporters would’ve written alone, the task forces have created a good policy blueprint that will move this country in a much-needed progressive direction and substantially improve the lives of working families throughout our country,” he tweeted.
The compromise still puts the Democratic Party out of step with voters when it comes to weed. The majority of U.S. voters support marijuana legalization.
President Donald Trump has been largely silent on the issue of marijuana. Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen and presumed Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins both support marijuana legalization, but Hawkins has made the issue more of a priority.
The Democratic Party will draft its policy platform at its convention next month.