The 2016 Democratic Platform now includes marijuana reform as one of its priorities.
While no candidates, including likely nominee for President of The United States, Hilary Clinton, are required to support the clauses in the Democratic platform, the move still seems significant. Candidates running for office in November may feel inclined to follow the parameters set by heads of the Democratic party especially as marijuana (approximately 90% of Americans support marijuana use with a physician’s prescription) and criminal justice reform are supported by the majority of Americans.
The Democratic platform is officially calling for federal protection for states that decide to legalize medical or recreational marijuana. The platform also calls for additional research into the medical benefits of marijuana. Writers of the new clauses said “our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African-Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites despite similar usage rates.”
Marijuana advocates and some within the Democratic party may have wanted the new platform language to go farther. While campaigning, Bernie Sanders has called for marijuana to be totally removed from the Controlled Substance Act. However, the current platform change may have been a compromise brought on by Sanders and his supporters. Previously, Democratic Chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has publicly stated her opposition to marijuana reform.
Some in the Democratic Party seem to want to reduce the legal confusion as marijuana is illegal on a federal level but is permitted in many states. “There are a lot of people who feel that our system of justice is just so unfair,” Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings said. “You can go to jail in one state and the other one you’re getting rich and everybody knows it, and it’s legal. Hopefully in time this thing will even out.”
Over half of the U.S. population lives in states with medical marijuana and four states have legalized recreational use. Up to 12 states may vote on significant reform laws this November. The DEA is expected to issue a ruling on whether or not to reschedule marijuana this summer.