IMPORTANT VOTING INFORMATION
Background: Colorado’s first-in-the-nation experiment in legal marijuana began in 2014, and now medical marijuana legalization has spread to 33 states and recreational pot sales exist in 11. The earlier fears of a federal crackdown on Colorado’s legal marijuana market subsided somewhat after the departure of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Nonetheless, as long as the drug is illegal under federal law, legal risks remain for the industry’s present and future in Colorado. Federal legalization could reduce those barriers, but could also threaten Colorado’s industry dominance if it accelerates the competition in other states.
Federal decriminalization, but mixed record on pot
A: Bloomberg now supports decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, while leaving the question of legalization to the states. But as recently as 2019, he said legalizing pot “was perhaps the stupidest thing we’ve ever done,” according to CNN. His argument today for stopping short of full legalization: “The science on marijuana urges a ‘go slow’ approach until there is better medical evidence of its health effects.” He supports investing federal dollars in research, and Bloomberg says he opposes “meddling” with states like Colorado where it is legal. He also would back ways to expunge marijuana convictions, but his track record has raised eyebrows on the left. The New York Civil Liberties Union says his stop-and-frisk policy as mayor of New York City contributed to soaring marijuana arrests there.
A newcomer to marijuana legalization
A: Decades ago as a county attorney, Klobuchar opposed legal marijuana and won plenty of drug convictions as a prosecutor. But she announced in February 2019 that she now supports legalization, and supports states having the ability to decide for themselves.
Pledges to legalize marijuana through executive action
A: His stance on marijuana is pretty clear. If elected, he pledged to legalize marijuana in every state through executive action. In addition to vacating past convictions, he would make sure profits from the industry were invested in communities hurt by the government’s drug crackdown. He also would work to keep tobacco companies out of the industry.
Federal legalization and allow states to craft own policies
A: Like some of his rivals, Steyer supports legalizing marijuana and wants to expunge criminal records of those convicted of possessing or selling small quantities of pot in the past. However, he didn’t offer specifics on where he would draw the line when it came to prior convictions. His campaign website makes another pledge that’s sure to please many in Colorado: allowing states to craft their own marijuana policies.
Legalize marijuana and erase related convictions
A: Warren favors legalization of marijuana at the federal level and supports a move to erase prior marijuana-related convictions to address what she calls the failed war on drugs. Marijuana is legal in her home state of Massachusetts, and Warren paired with Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican, to introduce the STATES Act. The measure sets limited federal standards but otherwise allows states to set their own policies regarding legalization. “Our federal marijuana laws are outdated and pose a threat to our public health and safety. Marijuana should be legalized, and we must reverse the harm of these failed policies by wiping clean the records of those unjustly jailed for minor marijuana crimes,” Warren said in a statement reintroducing the legislation in April 2019.
Background: More than six years after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, a major issue remains unresolved: banking. The U.S. House passed the SAFE Banking Act in 2019 to allow marijuana businesses access to financial services like loans, lines of credit and even bank accounts. These financial services are currently difficult to obtain because the drug is illegal at the federal level. It would also shelter banks and other institutions from prosecution for handling money tied to marijuana. NORML, a marijuana advocacy group, says that absent this sort of law, the billion-dollar state business has effectively been forced to operate in cash, making it more susceptible to theft and other risks. The measure won bipartisan support, but has stalled in the U.S. Senate.
No answer on marijuana banking
A: Biden did not respond to questions and it’s not clear where he stands.
No answer on where he stands
A: Bloomberg did not not answer this question when asked, and given his varied statements on legalization, it’s not clear where he stands.
Open to allowing marijuana banking
A: It's not known where he stands on the legislation. But he did say on the campaign trail that the cannabis industry working with so much cash “doesn’t really make sense.”
A cosponsor of the legislation
A: Klobuchar is a cosponsor of the SAFE Banking Act, so she supports the ability of state marijuana companies to access the financial services sector. Her home state is currently debating legalization.
He’s a cosponsor of the legislation
A: In addition, his pledge to legalize marijuana in his first 100 days would address any banking issues for the industry in Colorado, he argues. “Declassifying marijuana will eliminate the current onerous barriers to banking services for growers and dispensaries and allow them to access the banking system like any other business,” his website states.
Supports the legislation to open banking
A: The candidate supports the SAFE Banking Act, telling The Sun he would “direct the federal government to open banking services to the marijuana industry.”
Worked with Colorado’s senator to draft the bill
A: Warren is a cosponsor of the bill’s companion in the U.S. Senate, once again teaming up with Gardner, Colorado’s Republican senator. "Forcing legitimate marijuana businesses to operate a cash-only business is dangerous. It creates unnecessary public safety issues for communities and business owners," Warren said in a statement when the measure was introduced. "The SAFE Banking Act is a common-sense bill that would advance state efforts to regulate the sale of marijuana and support businesses working to establish reliable business operations."