Warren Unveils Plan To Legalize Marijuana During Denver Visit

Elizabeth Warren
John Locher/AP
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks during a fundraiser for the Nevada Democratic Party, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Las Vegas.

Before a campaign event in Denver, Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren rolled out a sweeping plan to legalize marijuana in the U.S.

The plan, called A Just and Equitable Cannabis Industry, said that in the eight years since Washington and Colorado legalized marijuana, it’s clear that legalization works.

The plan points to Colorado’s tax, fee and licensing revenue related to marijuana sales and the education projects, mental health initiatives and homelessness prevention that money helps fund as an example of the benefits. It also notes the state’s reduction in opioid-related deaths.

But Warren said the plan is more than just legalization, or the money that can be made.

“It’s about undoing a century of racist policy that disproportionately targeted Black and Latinx communities,” she said in a release about the plan. “It’s not justice when we lock up kids caught with an ounce of pot, while hedge fund managers make millions off of the legal sale of marijuana. My administration will put an end to that broken system.”

The plan detailed how a Warren administration would go about legalizing marijuana, including passing the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, introduced by Sen. Kamala Harris, a former presidential contender. A major part of that act is expunging past marijuana convictions.

Other parts of the plan would protect immigrants who work in the cannabis industry. Last year, U.S. immigration authorities blocked two immigrants’ applications for citizenship because of their work in Colorado’s marijuana industry, their attorneys and Denver officials said, accusing the Trump administration of quietly targeting immigrants seeking jobs in the growing field.

“No one should be deported or barred from citizenship for having used marijuana,” Warren said in the release.

Giving veterans access to medical marijuana and funding research are also included in Warren’s plan.

Warren also touted another former Democratic presidential candidate’s legalization plan.

“I support investing federal and state revenue from the cannabis industry into communities that have been disproportionately impacted by enforcement of our existing marijuana laws. In addition to the MORE Act, I am proud to support Sen. Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act,” Warren said.

Booker’s bill would create a fund of at least $500 million annually to repair damage done to communities that have been unjustly targeted by marijuana enforcement, stripping federal money from law enforcement agencies in states that continue to prohibit marijuana at the state level if they do not enforce their laws equitably.

She said that the recent shift in government policy and public perception of marijuana has been a long time coming. According to Warren's plan, legalizing marijuana is an opportunity to repair some of the damage caused by the current criminal justice system and she wants to ensure that everyone can participate in the growing cannabis industry.

“We have an opportunity now to get this right, and I’ll fight to make that happen,” Warren said.