Presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard is the latest 2020 contender to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis

On Thursday, presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard introduced legislation to remove cannabis from the federal list of Controlled Substances. Gabbard, who represents Hawaii’s second district announced the bill at a press conference with fellow Congressperson and co-sponsor Don Young, a Republican from Alaska.

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2019 seeks to give individual states control of marijuana laws, independent of the federal government. “[It’s] the only bipartisan piece of legislation that would allow states to make independent choices about their marijuana programs,” Young stated, according to reports.

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Also introduced was The Marijuana Data Collection Act of 2019, a bill that would study the effects of legalized cannabis on society from a variety of perspectives.

"Millions of people have been arrested for the possession or use of marijuana,” Gabbard told supporters of NORML via email on Thursday. “Many can’t afford bail — further punishing those who are poor — and become mired in our hopelessly back-logged court system that punishes non-violent offenders with felonies and years behind bars.”

“... the time has come for federal lawmakers to end this senseless and cruel prohibition that ruins lives," she continued.

Gabbard and Young were joined by NORML Director Erik Altieri on Thursday, who praised the simplicity of the bill’s goals. NORML was quick to point out that a previous iteration of this bill was the first of its kind to gain bipartisan support in Congress.

"The Ending Federal Prohibition Act is about acknowledging political, scientific, and economic reality. Marijuana legalization is here to stay and it is time that federal policy reflect that." said NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri in a statement. "This legislation is effective in its simplicity, it will deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and end federal prohibition once and for all, full stop."

Tulsi Gabbard and Don Young introduce their new legislation

The latest 2020 contender to back cannabis legalization

Gabbard is the latest 2020 contender to flex her support for cannabis legalization, In recent weeks Sen. Cory Booker reintroduced the Marijuana Justice Act, a bill that decriminalizes cannabis at the federal level while encouraging state-level legalization. Booker, who has also announced his candidacy for President of the United States was joined by a slew of cosponsors, all of whom have thrown their hat into the ring for 2020.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand have all signed onto the bill, while other 2020 hopefuls, such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar have shown support for legalization in some form.

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Whether or not any of these candidates would be able to garner the votes to pass such legislation is another story, especially considering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's opposition to cannabis legalization and his lack of desire to work with Democrats in any substantial way.

With polling data showing a majority of voters of all political backgrounds supporting cannabis legalization, it’s becoming clear that the issue will be a winning one in the next election cycle.

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