The Democratic National Committee (DNC) Platform Committee rejected an amendment this week that called on the party to support the marijuana legalization as a formal policy plan for 2020.
Some representatives testified to support the proposal, believing that legalization and ending the war on drugs would help resolve racial inequality and stimulate economic recovery. However, the measure was rejected by 50 votes to 106 after discussion, with three abstentions. The team chose to keep the language included in the platform draft published last week.
The proposal requires the legalization of marijuana, automatically deleting previous marijuana convictions, reschedule federal time through administrative measures, and allowing states to re-enact their marijuana laws. Like the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, the legalization of adult marijuana has not approved.
The language echoes the recommendations of the Criminal Justice Reform Task Force made earlier this month by Biden and former primary rival Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
“We cannot ignore the fact that the current marijuana criminalization policy has in too many cases been used to target people of color,” delegate Dennis Obduskey, who introduced the amendment, said. “They are unfairly and disproportionately six times more likely to be arrested than other citizens.”
Iowa Governor Stacey Walker, a member of the Biden-Sanders Criminal Justice Task Force, testified in support. He said, stating that black people are “overpoliced and brutalized over the same trace amounts of marijuana that white kids in this country are using without fear of repercussion or consequence.”
“I’m imploring all of you to approach this with an open mind and heart. Do something big here,” he said. “Take one small but meaningful step toward changing the course of history. If my black life matters to you, you will consider this amendment. We want to get in good trouble today, and I urge you to do the right thing and support it.”
Louisiana Senator Cleo Fields (D) believes that the existing platform proposal is an “ambitious agenda” and opposes the marijuana legalization amendment. He said that delegates should “respect the efforts of our unity task force that produced it by retaining its current form.”
Bakari Sellers, an attorney, and former South Carolina lawmaker, spoke in favor of the measure.
“I understand that sometimes these efforts we have to stand in headwinds, and sometimes we may feel as if we don’t go far enough,” he said. “But I think Democrats should support efforts like the Marijuana Justice Act that remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol and impose the federal excise tax on marijuana.”
“I think that we actually have to do something about the problem to unravel mass incarceration,” he said. “I think that it’s strictly unfair that when I represent a young black kid for trafficking marijuana in South Carolina where his criminal offenses are stacked one after another, and there are white boys in Colorado and California making a billion dollars off of it, I just see the inherent unfairness of that.”
“I stand in favor of legalizing marijuana,” he concluded. “I stand in favor of doing what’s right by unraveling mass incarceration and investing those dollars in black and brown communities that were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.”
Although the measure rejected, it did get more favorable votes than the party’s proposal to support the 2020 medical insurance plan.
This article is issued by Marijuana Moment.