While the initial draft of the Democratic Party’s campaign platform for 2016 called for modest marijuana reforms, including decriminalization for minor possession and a push for research, the party recently upgraded its position on the issue by endorsing policies that would create “a reasoned pathway to future legalization.”
Over the weekend, with just two weeks before the Democratic National Convention, the party’s platform committee engaged in a debate over an amendment brought to the table by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders calling for the elimination of marijuana from the confines of the Controlled Substances Act.
During the discussion, Sanders delegate David King, an attorney from Tennessee, argued that pot was branded as dangerous as heroin in a wicked political “craze” intended to sabotage the well being of “hippies and blacks.”
According to a report from The Washington Post, the amendment did not look as though it stood much of a chance at being taken seriously because some committee members were concerned that calling for an end to prohibition would be a foul misstep that might drag the party over the edge of credibility. However, all was not lost, as the committee simply made a few changes to the amendment that now calls for Uncle Sam to unleash the cannabis plant from its Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act in an effort to guide the nation into policies outlined under Sander’s original proposal.
Although the Democratic National Committee moved to adopt the amendment in close a vote of 81-to-80, there was some opposition from the committee’s co-chair, former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin, who held up the meeting by blathering on about how at least one member of the committee may have not had a “clicker” to put in his or her vote. This caused a group of spectators, most of which were Sanders supporters, to argue with committee members until U.S. Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas, a Clinton delegate, told those in attendance that while his team did not support the language of the new draft, they were not going to contest it.
“We withdraw the objection,” he said.
After the smoke cleared, the DNC had made marijuana reform a full-fledged part of its official campaign platform. The new language is as follows:
“Because of conflicting laws concerning marijuana, both on the federal and state levels, we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from its list as a Class 1 Federal Controlled Substance, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization.”
Although the newly revised Democratic platform will not provide the United States with an immediate plan to bring down the perils of prohibition in the event another Democrat takes control of the White House in 2017, it may steamroll the progressive opinions expressed by the Obama Administration on the issue by allowing the Party to take action instead of simply offering encouraging words of support.
The Republican Party, which is gearing up for its national convention next week, has not made marijuana reform an official part of its campaign platform for 2016.