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2020 Presidential Candidates on Marijuana: The Ultimate Guide

2020 Presidential Candidates and Marijuana

Last Updated: November 1, 2019

With support for marijuana legalization stronger than ever before, the issue of cannabis reform is slated to become a prominent issue in the 2020 presidential election.

Donald Trump, seeking a second term as President of the United States, is expected to earn the Republican party’s nomination. Trump has yet to take any notable actions related to marijuana, neither positive or negative, since taking office.

On the Democrat side, an abundance of declared primary candidates will battle in the primaries for their party’s nomination. Among Democratic voters, marijuana legalization has become a mainstream stance and politicians vying for their support have responded. So far, nearly every single declared Democratic presidential candidate has come out in support of either completely legalizing marijuana at the federal level, or descheduling it and leaving it up to the states.

Make informed choices by reviewing each candidate’s stance on marijuana legalization. Through the interactive tools below, you can quickly and easily sift through each candidate’s position on cannabis reform and any comments they’ve made about the issue. Click around the interactive graphic below to review each 2020 presidential candidate’s legislative support, public statements, and even tweets related to cannabis. Through the interactive timeline, you can click-and-drag and pinch-in and pinch-out zoom to discover when each candidate first made a pro-marijuana statement, first backed cannabis reform legislation, and any time there was a major development in their cannabis stance. Want to cut to the chase? A cannabis “temperature gauge” offers a quick-glance view of how strongly each candidate champions marijuana.

From now until the 2020 presidential election, this article will serve as home base for 2020 presidential candidates and their stance on federal marijuana policy. It will be regularly updated to reflect changes as presidential hopefuls enter and drop out of the race, as well as to document any shifts or major updates in cannabis views.

Republican Candidates

  • Donald Trump Stance on Marijuana
    Donald Trump Stance on Marijuana

    President Donald Trump

    See Candidate Stance More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Mark Sanford Stance on Marijuana
    Mark Sanford Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Bill Weld Stance on Marijuana
    Bill Weld Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Joe Walsh stance on marijuana
    Joe Walsh stance on marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

Democratic Candidates

  • Tulsi Gabbard Stance on Marijuana
    Tulsi Gabbard Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Joe Sestak Stance on Marijuana
    Joe Sestak Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Marianne Williamson Stance on Marijuana
    Marianne Williamson Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Wayne Messam Marijuana
    Wayne Messam Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Andrew Yang Stance on Marijuana
    Andrew Yang Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Steve Bullock Stance on Marijuana
    Steve Bullock Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Pete Buttigieg Stance on Marijuana
    Pete Buttigieg Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Julián Castro Stance on Marijuana
    Julián Castro Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Joe Biden Stance on Marijuana
    Joe Biden Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • John Delaney Stance on Marijuana
    John Delaney Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Michael Bennett Stance on Marijuana
    Michael Bennett Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Bernie Sanders Stance on Marijuana
    Bernie Sanders Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Elizabeth Warren Stance on Marijuana
    Elizabeth Warren Stance on Marijuana

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren

    See Candidate Stance More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Kamala Harris Stance on Marijuana
    Kamala Harris Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Cory Booker Stance on Marijuana
    Cory Booker Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Tom Steyer Stance on Marijuana
    Tom Steyer Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Amy Klobuchar Stance on Marijuana
    Amy Klobuchar Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Seth Moulton Stance on Marijuana
    Seth Moulton Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Eric Swalwell Stance on Marijuana
    Eric Swalwell Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Kirsten Gillibrand Stance on Marijuana
    Kirsten Gillibrand Stance on Marijuana

    Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

    See Candidate Stance More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Where Tim Ryan Stands on Cannabis
    Where Tim Ryan Stands on Cannabis
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Where Mike Gravel stands on marijuana legalization
    Where Mike Gravel stands on marijuana legalization
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Jay Inslee Stance on Marijuana
    Jay Inslee Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • John Hickenlooper Stance on Marijuana
    John Hickenlooper Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Beto O'Rourke Stance on Marijuana
    Beto O'Rourke Stance on Marijuana
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation
  • Bill de Blasio Stance on Marijuana
    Bill de Blasio Stance on Marijuana

    Mayor Bill de Blasio

    See Candidate Stance More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

Candidates' Support for Marijuana Over the Years

2020 Republican Party Nominees:

  • President Donald Trump

    President Donald Trump

    More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

    The president has sent mixed signals about his position on marijuana. During his campaign for president in 2015, Donald Trump acknowledged the therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana but opposed the legalization of adult use cannabis. “I think it’s bad,” he said after being asked for his thoughts on Colorado legalizing recreational marijuana, “and I feel strongly about that.”

    Later in his campaign, however, he modified his position by stating that while he didn’t support recreational marijuana, he believed states should be allowed to legalize marijuana without federal interference. He continued to express support for the legalization of medical marijuana.

    So far in his term, Trump has remained unclear in his intentions regarding cannabis reform. In December 2018, he did sign the 2018 Farm Bill, which included provisions to legalize hemp. He also said he would “probably” support the STATES Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by Sens. Cory Gardner (R) of Colorado and Elizabeth Warren (D) of Massachusetts, that would allow states to write their own marijuana policies.

    Despite Trump’s support of hemp and suggested federalist approach to marijuana legalization, some in the industry remain skeptical considering he picked Jeff Sessions, a staunch marijuana opponent, as his first attorney general. Additionally, interviews and documents obtained by BuzzFeed News last year revealed the Trump Administration had been secretly coordinating a government-wide effort to portray marijuana legalization in a negative light.

    Most recently, in signing a spending bill on February 15, 2019, Trump singled out an included provision that prevents the Justice Department from using funds to interfere with medical marijuana, stating that he “will treat this provision consistent with the President’s constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.” In short, Trump was making it clear that he reserves the right to ignore the cannabis provision and interfere with state-legal marijuana. While that language could elicit concern, it’s important to note that he made a similar comment in May 2017 when signing that fiscal year’s appropriations bill into law, and yet no raids against state-legal medical marijuana patients or providers followed.

    Multiple Republican lawmakers contend that Trump remains supportive of states making their own decisions about marijuana. Dana Rohrabacher, the former Representative from California, claims members within the Trump Administration reassured him they would take up federal cannabis reform following the midterm elections, but no actions have been made yet.

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  • Mark Sanford

    Mark Sanford

    More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

    Former South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford, who was also South Carolina’s governor, is challenging Donald Trump for the Republican nomination for president. While fiscally conservative, Sanford is libertarian-leaning and more moderate on social issues and favors marijuana legalization, arguing that the “debate [has] little to do with federal drug policy and everything to do with federalism.”

    While a Member of Congress, Sanford voted in favor of marijuana reform several times. Twice he backed amendments that would protect medical marijuana states, and once he voted in favor to shield CBD-only cannabis states. He is also one of the few Republicans to support an amendment to allow adult-use marijuana states to operate without interference.

    Sanford also several times voted in favor of amendments that would allow veterans to access medical cannabis, and once backed a measure to allow banks to service state-legal marijuana businesses.

    While in the House of Representatives, Sanford also co-sponsored five pieces of legislation related to marijuana reform, including bills that would shield medical marijuana states from federal enforcement efforts, encourage more marijuana scientific research, and provide tax fairness to the cannabis industry. Prior to hemp being made legal, he also co-sponsored a bill that would legalize hemp at the federal level.

    In 2018, Sanford criticized then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for attempting to crack down on businesses that sell marijuana products in states where cannabis has been legalized. He spoke out on the floor of the House of Representatives, urging the Trump administration to back off on plans to interfere with state-legal marijuana.

    On two occasions, Sanford voted in opposition to cannabis reform measures. In 2015, he opposed one hemp measure and in 1998 backed a resolution citing marijuana as “a dangerous and addictive drug” and that it “should not be legalized for medicinal use.”

    Sanford has said he’s never personally used marijuana and that he would not want his children to use the substance. While Sanford would likely not actively pursue comprehensive marijuana legalization legislation if elected, his stance and history suggest he would allow states to legalize marijuana without interference.

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  • Bill Weld

    Bill Weld

    More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

    Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld became the first Republican to announce a 2020 primary challenge against Donald Trump. Weld, a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts during Ronald Reagan’s administration who was responsible for enforcing prohibition, claims he has supported the legalization of medical marijuana since 1992.

    In 2016, Weld backed a recreational marijuana ballot initiative in his home state of Massachusetts while acknowledging that his acceptance of adult-use cannabis “represents something of a shift from what my position would have been in the past.” At the time, he said he was “not absolutely sure” whether he thought recreational marijuana should be legal nationwide.

    Later that year, however, he partnered with Gary Johnson for a Libertarian presidential ticket run and pledged to end federal marijuana prohibition if elected. Today, he is on the board of directors for the cannabis investment firm Acreage Holdings with ex-speaker of the House John Boehner.

    Weld apparently prefers to give states the right to decide how to handle marijuana policy. He has endorsed the STATES Act, a bill that would end federal prohibition so that states could legalize recreational or medical marijuana if they choose without fear of interference.

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  • Joe Walsh

    Joe Walsh

    More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

    Former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh is challenging Donald Trump for the Republican nomination for president in 2020. Now a conservative talk host, Walsh served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Illinois’ 8th congressional district in 2011 to 2013.

    Walsh has made it clear through his comments on Twitter that he supports the full legalization of marijuana, both for recreational and medical use. In several instances, he has indicated that he believes marijuana should be legal for adults 21 like alcohol is. Walsh has also admitted to smoking marijuana in the past.

    Throughout his time in Congress, Walsh did not sponsor or co-sponsor any cannabis reform legislation. In 2012, he did vote for an amendment that would shield medical marijuana states from federal interference.

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2020 Democratic Party Nominees:

  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

    Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

    More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

    Since assuming her position in Congress in 2013, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has regularly pushed for major cannabis reform and been vocal in her cannabis advocacy. She has consistently voted in favor of marijuana amendments on the House floor, including two measures aimed at protecting states with legalized medical marijuana, and a separate, broader proposal to shield all marijuana states.

    In 2018, Gabbard introduced the Ending Marijuana Prohibition Act, a landmark bill that would decriminalize marijuana and remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act entirely so that states could regulate the substance as they choose. The year before, when the bill was initially introduced and Gabbard backed it as a co-sponsor, she delivered a passionate speech on the floor of the U.S. House, urging her colleagues to support it. Gabbard also introduced the Marijuana Data Collection Act, a bill that would require the federal government to study the effects of marijuana legalization.

    In July 2019, Gabbard filed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, a comprehensive marijuana reform bill that decriminalizes marijuana under federal law, expunges prior convictions, and funds grants aimed at correcting historical injustices that have disproportionately impacted communities of color and low-income communities.

    Having served in a medical unit in the Hawaii Army National Guard, Gabbard has also actively supported several pieces of legislation aimed at expanding medical cannabis access to veterans. Also, in her six years in Congress, she’s voted in favor of three separate amendments that would allow veterans to obtain recommendations for medical marijuana through their VA physician.

    In addition to her legislative efforts to support cannabis reform, Gabbard also regularly releases pro-cannabis statements and social media posts. After the governor of Hawaii vetoed state legislation that would allow medical marijuana to be used for the treatment of opioid addiction and other substance use disorders, Gabbard publicly criticized the decision.

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  • Joe Sestak

    Joe Sestak

    More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

    Former Pennsylvania Rep. Joe Sestak has been very quiet on his stances regarding marijuana legalization and cannabis reform. During his time in Congress, between 2007 and 2011, Sestak never sponsored or co-sponsored any cannabis reform legislation.

    Sestak did, however, vote in favor of an amendment that would protect medical marijuana states from interference by the Department of Justice.

    Sestak has also suggested that federal laws should be changed to allow for easier research into psychoactive substances.

    “Anti-drug laws should never be an impediment to sound scientific research, but especially not during a public health crisis such as this one,” he wrote on his official campaign website.

    Additionally, Sestak on his campaign website suggests that the federal government should be taking a “multi-pronged approach to dealing with opioid addiction.” While Sestak hasn’t made it clear, his view of a multi-pronged approach may include increasing access to medical marijuana.

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  • Marianne Williamson

    Marianne Williamson

    More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

    Known best as Oprah’s spiritual advisor, Marianne Willliamson has not been vocal about her stance on marijuana, but has indicated that she “wholeheartedly” supports legalization. Her 2020 policy page does not include cannabis reform as an issue, but mass incarceration and criminal justice are prominently featured on her platform, suggesting she could be aware of the racial disparities associated with prohibition enforcement.

    Williamson has never held political office, so she has not had the opportunity to introduce, co-sponsor, or vote for cannabis legislation.

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  • Wayne Messam

    Wayne Messam

    More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

    Wayne Messam, who won a second term as mayor of Miramar, Florida in March 2019, has not made his stance on marijuana legalization clear. His 2020 campaign page does not include cannabis reform as one of his priorities.

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  • Andrew Yang

    Andrew Yang

    More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

    Entrepreneur and businessman Andrew Yang has made legalizing marijuana a major component of his 2020 platform. Citing the “need to resolve the ambiguity” between state and federal marijuana laws and describing the criminalization of marijuana as “stupid and racist,” Yang has called for legalizing marijuana at the federal level.

    On his 2020 policy page, Yang claims if elected President he would support the full legalization of marijuana, expunge federal convictions of offenses related to marijuana use or possession, and reduce punishments of non-violent drug offenders by offering probation or early release. In August 2019, he sent a fundraising email to his list promising, “On my first day as President, I will pardon every person imprisoned for a low-level, non-violent marijuana offense and I would high five them on their way out of jail.” His campaign is selling marijuana-themed merchandise, including a t-shirt, baseball cap, and bumper sticker.

    Since Yang has not held political office, he has not had the opportunity yet to introduce, co-sponsor, or vote on cannabis legislation.

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  • Gov. Steve Bullock

    Gov. Steve Bullock

    More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

    Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is not a vocal supporter of broad marijuana reform, and has not been clear as to whether he supports the legalization of recreational marijuana. However, he has said he voted “yes” to approve medical marijuana in Montana in 2004, and throughout his six years as governor has made several efforts to protect the state’s medical marijuana program and signed legislation aimed at more effectively regulating the industry.

    As governor in 2015, Bullock signed into law House Bill 463, which requires police to obtain a conviction prior to seizing the assets of property owners accused of drug-related offenses. In May 2017, he signed Senate Bill 333, imposing additional regulations on the state’s medical marijuana market, including a quarterly tax on cannabis businesses. In May 2019, he signed Senate Bill 265 to allow Montana residents to buy their medical marijuana from multiple dispensaries, rather than be limited to only one.

    While attorney general and campaigning for governor in 2012, Bullock vocally opposed a Montana law that repealed the medical marijuana ballot initiative with a stricter program that prohibited licensed sales and instead required patients or caregivers to grow their own cannabis.

    Bullock has also made efforts to stand up for the rights of medical marijuana users to possess firearms. In 2011, he wrote a letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, claiming that a Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms and Explosives (ATF) memo disqualifying patients from owning guns “implicates serious legal issues under the Second Amendment.”

    After a Montana Supreme Court ruling upheld the new strict regulations of the state’s medical marijuana industry, Bullock criticized it, saying in a statement that he was “concerned about the ability of thousands of patients with serious medical conditions to access a treatment that has been approved by their doctors.”

    In April 2017, after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department indicated a crack down on state-legal marijuana programs, Bullock criticized the behavior, arguing that Sessions “is dang near a decade late.”

    Outside of discussing his letter to Holder in a Facebook post, Bullock has remained quiet on social media about his stances on cannabis.

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  • Pete Buttigieg

    Pete Buttigieg

    More Information
    • Supports Medical Marijuana
    • Supports Recreational Marijuana
    • Introduced/Co-sponsored Cannabis Legislation
    • Approved/Voted in Favor of Cannabis Legislation

    Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has remained relatively quiet on his cannabis views. However, he has come out in support of marijuana legalization, which he sees as critical for social justice. In February 2019, he told the