Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is a Democratic presidential candidate who has been outspoken against marijuana law reforms but is now in favor of decriminalizing marijuana possession.
On November 24, Bloomberg launched a late bid for the Democratic presidential nomination; however, he faced criticism for making dismissive remarks earlier in the year about cannabis legalization when he said that the policy change is the stupidest thing anybody has ever done.
On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Bloomberg is in support of criminal justice reform for the decriminalization of simple marijuana possession and states’ right to end prohibition without intervention from the federal authorities. This shows that he is trying to distance himself from the anti-marijuana image he previously had.
Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg said that no one’s life should be ruined through incarceration for marijuana possession. He also noted that his reform efforts reduced imprisonment by 40% and that he worked hard to get New York laws changed to stop simple possession arrests. Bloomberg further said that he believes in decriminalization and that the states which have legalized marijuana should not be subjected to federal interference.
In 2011, Bloomberg vetoed a New York bill whose purpose was to treat simple marijuana possession with a court summons and fine instead of incarceration; however, two years later, he supported the legislation seeking to reduce criminal punishments for low-level cannabis possession. Bloomberg also called for alterations in the way law enforcement handle such cases.
The majority of the Democratic presidential candidates would be several steps ahead of Bloomberg even after he incorporates the proposal for decriminalizing marijuana possession in his policies because almost all Democratic candidates are in favor of comprehensive marijuana legalization and removal of cannabis from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act. This change would ensure that the legal marijuana industry is socially equitable.
Former Vice President, Joe Biden, is another presidential candidate who is against marijuana legalization. However, he has voiced his support for decriminalization, medical cannabis legalization, and modest federal rescheduling. But, he has vetoed legalization of adult-use marijuana.
Both Biden and Bloomberg made some negative remarks on marijuana reforms that received criticism. Earlier this year, Biden said that he does not support broad marijuana reforms as it could act as a gateway to harmful drugs. Bloomberg also noted that legalization is perhaps the stupidest thing ever done and that it doe not make any sense.
Although both candidates are now in support of decriminalization, other candidates such as Pete Buttigieg and Tulsi Gabbard are supporting the decriminalization of all drugs, while Julian Castro is considering broad marijuana reform.
Analysts believe marijuana companies like Neutra Corp. (OTC: NTRR) and Hemptown USA are following these policy discussions closely because the coming elections could decide how marijuana policy reform plays out.
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