I know what you’re thinking: isn’t it a bit early to be talking about the 2020 U.S. Presidential election? There was a time when I would have agreed with that sentiment, but no longer. In today’s political arena, the battle is always joined. Every hour of every news cycle must be treated as its own mini-battle, each contributing to the success of the wider war.
In this case, the war is the fight for cannabis legalization. Those who oppose legalization are already gearing up for 2020 and beyond. Those familiar with the game of chess know the concept; you can’t only look at the move that is in front of you, you also have to think about how that move will affect the next move and so on down the line, several moves ahead of where you are right now. So while there are many moves between now and 2020, we also have to look at where we might stand then and what will need to be accomplished.
Marijuana legalization is likely to be a big issue in the next Presidential election. On the democratic side there are a myriad of potential Presidential candidates, many of whom have publicly supported marijuana legalization. Senator Cory Booker (NJ), who recently announced a bill that would end federal marijuana prohibition, is considered a possible frontrunner. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), who came close to snatching the Democratic nomination from Hillary Clinton last year, is a vocal supporter of marijuana law reform and could very well take another run at the nomination in 2020. Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) is another in the mold of Sanders, vocal about the failures of prohibition and well-liked among the Democratic base.
On the Republican side you will (in theory) have the incumbent President, which normally suppresses the amount of challengers, but we do not live in normal political times. President Trump could very well limp into 2020 battered and bruised from 3 years of unrelenting assaults from all areas of the political spectrum. Currently, he is relatively unpopular and struggles with an administration that seems to be in disarray on a day-to-day basis. This could invite challengers from within the GOP.
When it comes to marijuana law reform, the most vocal of those possible challengers is Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. A longtime detractor of prohibition, Paul has also been a champion of broader criminal justice reform.
All of these possible candidates – and more – could put a massive spotlight on marijuana legalization, making it a top-tier issue in the 2020 Presidential election. Even if a legalization supporter doesn’t win, it can serve to bring the issue before even more voters and accelerate the process of cannabis law reform around the country.