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Where Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson Stands On Marijuana



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 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.”

“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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.

The candidate also criticized the White House over penalizing employees who were honest about prior marijuana use as part of their application process.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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.

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.

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.

Where Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley Stands On Marijuana

Image element courtesy of Matt Johnson.

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