The presidential nominees for the Libertarian and Green Parties both support bolder drug policy proposals, including marijuana legalization, than presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden or President Trump.
Libertarian pick Jo Jorgensen and Green nominee Howie Hawkins recently discussed their views on the issue and backed legalizing cannabis for adult use and more broadly ending the criminalization of other currently illicit substances.
“The biggest problem we have right now is not the drugs, it’s the drug prohibition,” Jorgensen said during an interview with C-SPAN this month. “Now, do drugs and alcohol cause problems? Of course they do. However, they’d be much more manageable if it were legal.”
“What’s the difference between me drinking bourbon in my home and somebody else smoking marijuana in their own home?” she said. “If there is no victim, there is no crime.”
Ending the failed drug war would be a top priority if elected. It has led to the highest incarceration rate in the world. On day 1, I would pardon ALL nonviolent, victimless offenders in federal prisons. If there is no victim, there is no crime pic.twitter.com/bwtnw5VUja
— Jo Jorgensen (@Jorgensen4POTUS) April 16, 2020
The US prison population jumped from 350k to 2.3mil in just 30 years.
The overall crime rate went down, however.
How is this possible?
Draconian sentence lengths, mandatory minimums, and an increase in the number of drug laws which creates more “crimes”#WarOnDrugs
— Jo Jorgensen (@Jorgensen4POTUS) June 11, 2020
The Libertarian candidate later described the drug war as an example of how “racial injustice” is “built into our our laws.”
Hawkins also recently talked about drug policy reform as a tool to combat mass incarceration during a remotely delivered speech for the Green Party National Convention.
“We’ve got to treat drug abuse as a health problem. You should legalize marijuana and decriminalize the hard drugs like Portugal,” he said. “Instead of just throwing people in prison and building the biggest prison industrial system in the world—which Joe Biden had a lot to do [with], he wrote the legislative architecture for that as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee—we should be treating drug addiction as a health problem, not a criminal problem.”
The war on marijuana has caused tremendous damage and Joe Biden has been a major force in waging it. When we end the marijuana war we need to do so not only to create a policy that will work for the future but one that corrects the mistakes of the past. https://t.co/CaibkAPOqq pic.twitter.com/eJjWZvBdYz
— Howie Hawkins (@HowieHawkins) April 20, 2020
The candidate also argued in a separate interview with C-SPAN that removing criminal penalties for illicit drugs can “can reduce opioid overdoses” by ending stigmas attached to seeking treatment.
“We want to decriminalize all drugs, except marijuana—we just want to legalize it like alcohol and tobacco,” he said. “It’s not as dangerous as those two drugs and it should be taxed and regulated. For other illicit drugs, we want to do like they did in Portugal about 20 years ago.”
One of the central changes to policing is to end the war on drugs. 20% of incarcerated people in the US are locked up due to a drug offense. We need to legalize marijuana, decriminalize other drugs, and make treatment readily available like Portugal did.https://t.co/tBvCm4m2Jh pic.twitter.com/yPaOniowr1
— Howie Hawkins (@HowieHawkins) June 25, 2020
It's time we reverse the devastating impact the War on Drugs has on our communities, as one of the basic sources of mass incarceration. We need to legalize marijuana, decriminalize personal use of other drugs, and expunge the records of those imprisoned.https://t.co/jmjPTpbZwB pic.twitter.com/HOgqaCo5vQ
— Howie Hawkins (@HowieHawkins) April 20, 2020
Both third-party nominees are going further on drug policy than either Biden or Trump, neither of whom support legalizing marijuana.
Biden, who during his decades as a senator championed punitive drug legislation, has so far drawn the line at decriminalizing cannabis possession, federal rescheduling, medical marijuana legalization, expungements and allowing states to set their own policies.
For his part, Trump has voiced tentative support for legislation to allow states to set their own cannabis policies without federal interference and also backs medical cannabis.
That said, while the president’s reelection campaign has been working to frame him as the criminal justice reform candidate, he hasn’t proactively championed cannabis reform, has made several anti-marijuana administration hires and issued signing statements stipulating that he reserves the right to ignore long-standing congressional riders that prohibit the Justice Department from using its funds to interfere with state-legal medical marijuana programs.
Also, despite his pledged support for medical cannabis and states’ rights, Trump evidently holds some negative views toward marijuana consumption, as evidenced in a recording from 2018 that was leaked two years later. In that recording, the president said that using cannabis makes people “lose IQ points.”
Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.