Marianne Williamson is again seeking the Democratic presidential nomination—mounting a challenge against incumbent President Joe Biden for the 2024 election.
The lecturer and self-help author hasn’t served as an elected official before, but she has taken a clear position on drug policy: the war on drugs has failed, and it’s time to legalize marijuana and explore the potential of psychedelics.
Running against an incumbent president from the same party is a tall task, but Williamson has attracted headlines over the course of her two campaigns and affected the narrative around issues ranging from student debt to cannabis policy.
Beyond statements on social media and in interviews, Williamson’s record on the issue is thin, but the latest challenge to Biden has put her back in the spotlight, warranting a roundup of her position on drug policy matters.
This story was last updated on January 25, 2024 to include the candidate’s statements and policy actions on marijuana since joining the race.
Here’s where Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson stands on marijuana:
Legislation And Policy Actions
Williamson, who previously ran unsuccessful campaigns to serve in Congress and the White House, has not served in elected office. Accordingly, she does not have a legislative record on drug policy issues.
On The Campaign Trail
In an interview with ABC News days after announcing her latest candidacy, Williamson shared her perspective on the shortcomings of the Biden administration and said that there are “many things that the president can do without working through Congress… The president declassify marijuana right now.”
She made similar remarks to reports at a campaign event in New Hampshire.
(Biden has directed an administrative review into cannabis scheduling, but congressional researchers have maintained that it is not in fact within the president’s authority to unilaterally deschedule it.)
Williamson’s campaign site states that the candidate supports marijuana descheduling and would promote “research in non-traditional medicines such as psilocybin, etc.”
I would de-schedule cannabis from a Schedule One drug on my first day in office.
Release all nonviolent drug offenders.
Expunge their records.
End the War on Drugs.
Happy 4/20! 💚
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) April 20, 2023
“I will declassify marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug,” Williamson said in an interview with Current Affairs.
In a plan focused on mental health that her campaign released in October 2023, Williamson laid out 10 proposals that she said would help address the country’s “record levels of suicide, depression, anxiety, and toxic stress.” That includes legalizing psychedelic-assisted therapy with full health insurance coverage.
“For some of the most widespread mental health challenges we face—such as depression, addiction, anxiety, and PTSD—psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy using psilocybin and MDMA has shown incredible promise to completely revolutionize mental healthcare,” she said. “Some of these therapies are on the verge of FDA clearance, and some have already been legalized in states like Oregon.”
The candidate released a drug policy platform in December 2023, emphasizing the need for bold reform to tackle the overdose epidemic.
“The War on Drugs has completely failed to alleviate the problem it supposedly set out to solve,” she said. “It has only created more problems, fueling mass incarceration and violence at home and abroad.”
Williamson also said that it’s something of a misnomer to say the drug war has “failed,” arguing that it achieved racially discriminatory and political end goals of the Nixon administration “as intended.”
She also said in June 2023 that she would move to decriminalize all currently illicit drugs, saying the drug war has been “an utter failure.” She added that “we need to move in another direction.”
Also that month, the candidate similarly told WMUR that she would reschedule marijuana and decriminalize all drugs similar to Portugal’s approach.
In January 2024, Williamson sharply criticized the Biden administration and Congress for slow-walking marijuana reform, accusing lawmakers of “hypocrisy” for failing to legalize cannabis at the same time that they’re privately using illegal drugs.
“One of the first things I would do is deschedule marijuana. It is ridiculous. Deschedule it—not only let everyone out of a prison who was there on marijuana-related charges, but also expunge those records,” the candidate said.
Also in January 2024, she posted that it’s “time to end America’s War on Drugs.”
In the 1970s there were 300,000 people in US prisons; today there are 2.3 million. Almost half of all federal prisoners are nonviolent drug offenders. 2/4
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) January 20, 2024
“Initiated in 1971, we have spent $1 trillion and it has only exacerbated the problem… We should treat drugs not as a criminal issue but as a health issue (such as in nations like Portugal),” she said. “For a fraction of the $100 billion we spend a year on the War on Drugs, we could pay for a world-class network of recovery options that actually help people get sober.”
As president I don’t want a Drug Czar; I want a Recovery Czar. 4/4
Here is my drug policy: https://t.co/vYR0hAR3bg
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) January 20, 2024
Previous Quotes And Social Media Posts
A look at Williamson’s comments and social media posts about drug policy reveals several themes: She consider the drug war a failure, believes the president can (and should) federally legalize cannabis and supports criminal justice-centered reform that prioritizes those who’ve been caught up in criminalization.
The candidate has also repeatedly argued those who oppose student loan debt relief because they weren’t afforded that opportunity are essentially making the same argument that legalizing marijuana would be “unfair” to those who were criminalized over cannabis.
Saying we shouldn’t cancel the college loan debt because it would be unfair to the people who already paid theirs, is like saying we shouldn’t legalize marijuana because it would be unfair to the people who served prison time for it. It’s ridiculous.
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) October 18, 2021
She also weighed in on the incarceration of WNBA star Brittney Griner in a Russian prison over alleged possession of cannabis oil, stating that it was a “terrible” circumstance, but that people should keep in mind the U.S. also maintains punitive drug laws. Griner has since been released following international negotiations.
It’s terrible what has happened to Brittney Griner and I pray for her every day.
At the same time, anyone who thinks people don’t get drug sentences just as draconian as that in this country are very naïve about what happens here.
Free her, and free them.
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) August 7, 2022
Wonderful that Brittney Griner was freed.
No one should be in jail for weed in the United States either. https://t.co/okx7dAvgGE
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) December 8, 2022
Williamson referenced quotes from a senior aide to President Nixon to hammer down the point that the drug war largely originated as an excuse to criminalize perceived political adversaries—namely minorities and progressives.
Quote from Nixon aide John Ehrlichman about the Drug War:
“You want to know what this was really all about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? 1/3
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) June 12, 2022
“We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” 3/3
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) June 12, 2022
Prior to Biden’s mass marijuana pardons and directive for an administrative scheduling review in October 2022, Williamson routinely argued that the president could unilaterally deschedule marijuana, effectively legalizing the plant, and that he should take that step.
.@POTUS alone could lower healthcare costs, cancel fed student loan debt, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, raise wages by increased eligibility for overtime pay, reduce police violence thru national policing standards & decriminalize cannabis. Why are Dems so polite about this?
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) April 19, 2022
2/ The lackluster performance of this administration is not only due to Manchin & Sinema. Biden could declare a medical emergency and expand Medicare to everyone tonight; he could cancel all college loan debt tonight; he could declassify cannabis from a Schedule 1 drug tonight.
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) January 19, 2022
.@POTUS could call a national medical emergency and expand Medicare to everyone TONIGHT. He could cancel the college loan debt TONIGHT. He could decriminalize marijuana TONIGHT. He doesn’t need congressional approval to do any of those things. https://t.co/exCxFIu6XA
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) February 14, 2022
This would be ridiculous if it weren't so wrong, unjust, immoral and disgusting.
Biden could remove cannibas from a Schedule 1 drug *tonight.* He could release non-violent drug offenders.
At a time when we should be giving people their lives back we just keep taking them away. https://t.co/sBuU4uWhrI
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) August 6, 2022
The candidate also criticized the White House over penalizing employees who were honest about prior marijuana use as part of their application process.
This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. People get government jobs who supported bombing hundreds of thousands of innocent people, but they get fired for having smoked marijuana. https://t.co/aJim8fcMc0
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) March 19, 2021
In 2021, Williamson joined psychedelics reform activist Rick Doblin for a podcast where she discussed research into the therapeutic potential of entheogenic substances, including for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as how they can affect spiritual growth.
The surprising people funding psychedelic research for treating PTSD in veterans… hint: there's a Koch involved.
Watch: https://t.co/zc65qbpDYb#TheMWPodcast pic.twitter.com/S0XyAN801l
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) March 12, 2021
Williamson applauded congressional efforts to federally legalize marijuana in 2021, and she said that reform legislation should “include releasing thousands of people from prison who have been there on marijuana convictions, as well as compensatory measures to help them rebuild their lives.”
Excellent. This should also include releasing thousands of people from prison who have been there on marijuana convictions, as well as compensatory measures to help them rebuild their lives. https://t.co/wvOv7fFAPl
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) February 2, 2021
She also celebrated New York’s legalization of marijuana in 2021, saying that it was cause to reflect on “the terrible suffering & injustices its criminalization caused to begin with.”
Tho celebrating the legalization of marijuana we should take a moment to remember the terrible suffering & injustices its criminalization caused to begin with. The Drug War in its entirety has done terrible damage to this country. Let’s end it completely. https://t.co/Jai2zO1Z93
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) March 31, 2021
The prohibition against marijuana has been as ill-conceived and ultimately harmful as was the prohibition against alcohol. Now it’s time for it to end. https://t.co/7hwVZBvc52
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) June 12, 2019
After New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed legislation to legalize marijuana into law in 2021 following voter approval of a ballot referendum, Williamson said that she hoped the governor would “release from prison the many people in your state who landed there on marijuana-related charges.”
I hope you will release from prison the many people in your state who landed there on marijuana-related charges.
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) February 22, 2021
Legalizing cannabis is taking on added urgency now, not only because of people unjustly incarcerated but also for medicinal and environmental reasons. Time to scrap what should never have been a prohibition in the first place. @POTUS https://t.co/wld7MzGLH1
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) January 18, 2022
I hope he will. We need to legalize, then release everyone now in prison on marijuana-related charges. Things are moving in that direction. We have to keep pushing.
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) April 29, 2021
As part of her 2020 campaign platform, Williamson said that the country should “treat drug addiction as a mental health issue, and not as illegal activity.”
“Only by de-criminalizing drugs can we break the back of cartels and drug dealers, while getting addicts into recovery,” she said.
Personal Experience With Marijuana
It doesn’t appear that Williamson has publicly talked about any personal experience with marijuana. But one thing she made abundantly clear in 2020 following the presidential election is that, if she did smoke, she is “not getting stoned” with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who she ran against for the Democratic nomination in that cycle.
I am not getting stoned with Amy Klobuchar.
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) December 20, 2020
For the unofficial cannabis holiday 4/20 last year, she also posted a video of her getting into a sanitary suit to tour a Nevada-based marijuana cultivation facility.
I’m a day late but I couldn’t find the picture. Happy 420! Let’s legalize cannabis, then release from prison and expunge the records of those who have paid a heavy price for doing something that should never have been criminalized to begin with. pic.twitter.com/9qAQ7jNdFE
— Marianne Williamson (@marwilliamson) April 21, 2022
Following that tour, Williamson said that cannabis should be legalized, with tax revenue from sales supporting universal health care, student debt relief, a higher minimum wage and more.
“We take better care of the marijuana plants in this facility than we take care of thousands of children in Nevada and millions of children in America,” she said.
Marijuana Under A Williamson Presidency
If Williamson managed to pull off a political upset and get elected to the White House, her comments on drug policy issues signal she would be a proactive supporter of federal marijuana legalization with an eye toward equity—and she may even be willing to pursue policy changes as they concern psychedelics.
Image element courtesy of Matt Johnson.