Democratic Party Adds Marijuana Plank to Platform

The Democratic Party added language to its draft 2016 platform concerning marijuana for perhaps the first time (read the draft here). While the language does not go so far as support either medical or recreational marijuana, it does support states’ marijuana decriminalization efforts and acknowledges the racial bias in the enforcement of marijuana laws. Read the wording below.

Marijuana: Committee members McKibben and Browner worked on an amendment supporting states that choose to decriminalize marijuana.  The amendment also recognized that marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites, despite similar usage rates. The Committee passed the amendment unanimously.

If finalized in its present form, it may be the first time marijuana reform has been mentioned in the party’s platform (e.g., marijuana was not mentioned the Democrat’s party platform in 2008 or 2012).

Sec. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee, echoes the language above and goes further, supporting states that have passed marijuana laws and the rescheduling marijuana from Schedule 1 to 2:

  • Focus federal enforcement resources on violent crime, not simple marijuana possession. Marijuana arrests, including for simple possession, account for a huge number of drug arrests. Further, significant racial disparities exist in marijuana enforcement, with black men significantly more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts, even though usage rates are similar. Hillary believes we need an approach to marijuana that includes:
    • Allowing states that have enacted marijuana laws to act as laboratories of democracy, as long as they adhere to certain federal priorities such as not selling to minors, preventing intoxicated driving, and keeping organized crime out of the industry.
    • Rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance. Hillary supports medical marijuana and would reschedule marijuana to advance research into its health benefits.
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