Beto O’Rourke Proposes Marijuana Reform Offering “Drug War Justice”

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The Democratic presidential candidate proposes providing payments to those formerly incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis charges.

A cannabis reform plan unveiled by 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke goes one step further than recently-proposed reform proposals, offering direct payments to those formerly imprisoned for nonviolent cannabis charges.

The former Texas congressman announced his “Drug War Justice” initiative on Sept. 19.

“We will never erase the damage done by the drug war—the lives lost, the years spent behind bars—but we can begin to remedy the injustices of the past by ending the cruelty today,” O’Rourke stated in a tweet unveiling his reform plan.

“Our plan starts with: Legalizing marijuana, providing clemency for those currently serving time, and expunging the records of everyone who has been convicted for possession in the past. But we don’t stop there,” O’Rourke stated in a tweet.

An outline of the initiative suggests a federal tax to be placed on the marijuana industry. The tax revenue from which would then be used to provide a monthly “Drug War Justice Grant” to those who have been incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses in state and federal prison for a period based which would be based on time served.

Other components of the “Drug War Justice” initiative include:

  • Prohibiting the use of cannabis-related charges as grounds for deportation or denial of citizenship
  • Supporting broader access to medical marijuana and allowing recommendation and prescription by VA physicians
  • Building a standard regulation model on cannabis similar to that of alcohol
  • Allowing cannabis-related business owner access to banks
  • Waiving licensing fees for production and distribution of cannabis for low-income individuals who have been convicted of cannabis offenses.
  • Protecting low-income individuals and people of color who own cannabis businesses from discrimination and predatory investors.

In another Sept. 19 tweet, the former congressman recalled his time as an El Paso City Councilmember where, as he stated, he first started advocating for cannabis legalization and ending the War on Drugs which had devastated communities of color.

“I believe today what I believed then: We don’t only need to legalize marijuana. We also need to repair the damage done to communities of color that have been locked up in our criminal justice system, or locked out of opportunity, because of the War on Drugs,” he stated in a tweet.

2020 Presidential Candidates and Cannabis

O’Rourke joins 18 other Democrats who have put their names in for a chance to run as 2020 Democratic presidential nominee. Nearly all candidates have made their stance on cannabis legalization known, with only one, former Vice President Joe Bidden, who has yet to endorse any form of legalization.

Among the three Republican candidates are varying levels of support for cannabis reform. The prominent front runner, current President Donald Trump, has voiced support for state’s rights on medical marijuana legalization.

Follow along the cannabis campaign trail by visiting our information page, 2020 Presidential Candidates on Marijuana: The Ultimate Guide.

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