Go Back

Is cannabis becoming a wedge issue in the presidential election?

Aug 18, 2020

With the presidential election less than three months away in the states and party conventions around the corner, campaign season is in full swing. And while most Americans are focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and a flailing economy, the candidates and their most rabid supporters have begun to push cannabis to the forefront of the battle for the White House.

President Trump threw the first shots across the bow last week following the announcement of Sen. Kamala Harris as the presumptive Vice Presidential nominee. After calling the California senator “the meanest, most horrible, most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate.” Trump turned his attention to Harris’ record on cannabis, according to The Fresh Toast.

Last year Harris commented that she smoked marijuana and listened to Snoop Dogg in her youth, remarks which some people felt were callous in light of her role as Attorney General of California years ago. Some have argued that her focus on cannabis prosecutions was unjust and unfair.

“She lied, she said things that were untrue,” said Trump speaking on Harris’ recent comments. Whether or not the President had any basis for his statement was unknown. 

Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway took things a step further. In a Fox News interview, the Conway attacked Harris’ prosecutorial record in regards to cannabis.

“I think as attorney general in California, the position that Kamala Harris has held much longer than she’s been a United States senator, people will dig into that record,” Conway said on Fox News. “It looks like she left nobody happy.”

She continued: “She locked up over 1,500 people or so on marijuana charges, and by others who are for public safety and law and order, she is seen as somebody who is soft on some of those criminals. And so, I think she has a very mixed record there that people will dig into.”

However, it has become clear that Trump sees the cannabis issue as more of a threat to his reelection chances than anything else. At a campaign event on Monday, he told fellow Republicans that legalization initiatives could hurt his chances at a second term in office.

The President directed his comments at former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who lost his reelection bid in 2018, the same year the state had a legalization referendum on the ballot. “The next time you run please don’t put marijuana on the ballot at the same time you’re running,” Trump said while eyeing up Walker. “You brought out like a million people that nobody ever knew were coming out.”

Trump’s statements have always been pretty malleable when it comes to cannabis policy. In the past, he has supported a state’s rights approach to legalization. However, throughout his presidency, he has never taken any concrete steps to support significant actions to help the industry. On the contrary, Trump, like his opponent Biden has a history of cracking down on the industry with punitive measures. 

Still, the campaign moves forward. Republicans have called Biden an architect of the War on Drugs. In contrast, Biden, who has never supported legalization for a variety of reasons, has still put out one of the most progressive platforms concerning marijuana ever on a presidential ticket. 

Add comment