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Most Democratic Hopefuls Agree on One Thing

That one thing is marijuana legalization
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 9, 2019 6:00 PM CST
In this Nov. 6, 2018 file photo Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand speaks to supporters during an election night watch party in New York.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
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(Newser) – A growing list of Democratic presidential contenders want the US government to legalize marijuana, reflecting a nationwide shift as more Americans look favorably on cannabis, the AP reports. Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the "smart thing to do," says California Sen. Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor whose home state is the nation's largest legal pot shop. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, a prominent legalization advocate on Capitol Hill, says the war on drugs has been a "war on people." Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke, who appears poised to join the 2020 Democratic field, has written a book arguing marijuana legalization would hobble drug cartels. In an email to supporters this week, he called again to end the federal prohibition on marijuana.

"Who is going to be the last man—more likely than not a black man—to languish behind bars for possessing or using marijuana when it is legal in some form in more than half of the states in this country?" O'Rourke wrote. It's a far different approach from the not-so-distant past, when it was seen as politically damaging to acknowledge smoking pot and no major presidential candidate backed legalization. Unlike President Clinton in 1992, it seems everyone's inhaling: Presidential hopefuls in the Senate who have co-sponsored Booker's legislation to end the federal prohibition include Harris, New York's Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Vermont's Bernie Sanders. The widespread endorsement reflects a changing America, where support for legalization has risen from 12% in the 1960s to 66% in 2018.

(Read more marijuana stories.)

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