Elizabeth Warren On Marijuana: ‘Legalize It’
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In the words of Peter Tosh, Sean Paul, and countless other marijuana advocates around the globe, Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on Sunday regarding the federally banned substance, it’s time to “legalize it” and start rectifying the wrongs of the failed “War on Drugs.” 

Warren, who is coming off of a particularly noteworthy performance during the Nevada Democratic primary debate, is one of many candidates who have laid out plans to ensure that there are players outside of “Big Tobacco” who can profit from the growing, highly-profitable industry. Frontrunner Bernie Sanders, former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and businessman Tom Steyer, have all vowed to work towards federal legalization.

In a press release shared with ESSENCE, the Warren campaign stated that as a first step, the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts will legalize marijuana, erase past convictions, and act to ensure “real equity in access to this emerging industry.” The release notes that Warren recognizes “it won’t fully end the War on Drugs or address its painful legacy,” but states that it’s a positive step forward in harnessing the economic potential of a legalized cannabis industry. 

Elizabeth Warren takes the stage in Atlanta to discuss equity in U.S. She wants to legalize cannabis.
Ayanna Pressley (L) joins Elizabeth Warren (R) at a rally in Atlanta, GA on the campus of Clark Atlanta University to discuss her support in building a more equitable United States. (Photo: Tanya A. Christian for ESSENCE)

To ensure there is equity, Sen. Warren has vowed to make sure communities of color are fully included in the “opportunity and prosperity that legalization will create.” She has also promised to protect immigrants who work or are involved with the industry, fund marijuana research, and lift the ban on Washington D.C. to ensure its residents can develop a legal market and fulfill the racial justice goals of the original referendum.

“The term “marijuana” itself was racialized, meant to associate the plant with Mexican-origin people, stigmatizing both,” Warren says in the plan which was released on Sunday ahead of a town hall in Denver, CO. “And ever since, Black and Brown communities have suffered disproportionately from draconian enforcement of anti-marijuana laws.” 

Though it is the first time Warren is sharing in detail her plans to transform the cannabis industry, her support for the legalization of marijuana is not new. She is a lead sponsor on the STATES Act, which protects states’ rights in the marijuana market and is a co-sponsor of other legislation that would remove cannabis from the list of federally banned substances.

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