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Presidential Candidate Wants to Put Cannabis Legalization in the Hands of the People

Tom Steyer National Referendum

Philanthropist and Democratic candidate Tom Steyer is proposing a national referendum process to give the American people a “seat at the table.”

Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer wants to make sure the federal government does not stand in the way of the American people when it comes to marijuana law and other issues. In order to accomplish this, Steyer this week proposed a national referendum process giving Americans the ability to pass reforms without congressional action.

“Our democracy is broken,” Steyer stated in a Sept. tweet. “Too many Americans feel like their voice doesn’t matter—that the system is rigged in favor of corporations and special interest groups.”

As an example, Steyer mentions that the referendum process has already been established in 26 states and wants to take it to the national level. Under the referendum process, several states have passed cannabis reform laws establishing medical marijuana programs while decriminalizing marijuana.

States who recently used or are currently using the referendum process for cannabis laws include Arizona, Mississippi, Michigan, Idaho, and Oklahoma. A referendum generally refers to a ballot measure. According to the National Conference Of State Legislatures, the popular referendum is a device that allows voters to approve or repeal an act of the Legislature.

Furthermore, if lawmakers pass a law that voters do not approve of, citizens may gather signatures and demand a popular vote. The popular referendum process also allows for a measure to be placed on an election ballot by citizen initiative, or a petition of voters. Often times this means citizens must gather a certain amount of signatures.

“Let’s establish common sense solutions that return power to the very capable hands of the American people,” Steyer said.

On his campaign website, Steyer explains in a video how the working people are left “without a seat at the table” when it comes to the United States’ governing system in 2019. To combat this, Steyer’s plan as president consists of enacting a national referendum process.

With six in 10 American voters now in favor of marijuana legalization, a referendum process could impact cannabis reform efforts in many states across the U.S.

“We plan to have bills introduced in both the House and Senate to establish a national referendum process, establish an office to implement and oversee this process, and develop criteria to place no more than two key issues annually before the national electorate to vote on,” Steyer’s campaign website states.

2020 Presidential Candidates on Marijuana

Never before has there been so much support for cannabis legalization by a group of presidential candidates. In a race with a majority of both Republican and Democratic candidates favoring some form of legalization, the odds are good that the next president will make history by rescheduling cannabis or removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

With a long list of Democratic contenders, 19 still in the running, only one has not spoken out in support of cannabis legalization. That candidate is former vice president Joe Biden. Of the four Republican candidates, all have made statements in support of some form of cannabis legalization.

To get to know the candidates better and ready what they have said or taken action on when it comes to marijuana reform, check out our 2020 Presidential Candidates On Marijuana guide.

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