Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, spoke alongside Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and others on a panel aimed at discussing the path to ending federal marijuana prohibition on Saturday.
The session at the Netroots Nation conference was moderated by Justin Stekal, political director of NORML.
“Join us for a conversation on the emerging agreements and fault lines [amongst] the various proposals to end federal marijuana prohibition,” a description of the event reads. “With so many aspects of policy needing to be addressed, spanning criminal justice to immigration to industry diversity and inclusion issues, these panelists are the ones who are ‘in the weeds’ working with lawmakers and their offices on Capitol Hill and around the states every day.”
Panelists also included Drug Policy Alliance Policy Coordinator for National Affairs Queen Adesuyi, cannabis legalization organizer Vanessa Maria, Minority Cannabis Business Association President Shanita Penny and Shaleen Title, who serves as a commissioner on the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.
“In more and more political circles, spanning the left and the right, lawmakers are jumping over themselves to engage in the reform effort,” Strekal told Marijuana Moment. “As the public support grows, so will the policy move forward.”
“The reform movement is fortunate to have longtime allies like Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Gov. Jay Inslee who see the need to legalize and regulate cannabis and expunge the criminal records of those who have suffered under its prohibition,” he said.
Netroots is one of the foremost conferences for progressive organizers and is a go-to campaign stop for Democratic office seekers hoping to connect with the party’s base. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and former House and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who are also running for the Democratic nomination, will also be featured at the event.
The event follows Wednesday’s historic congressional committee hearing that had a similar focus, with lawmakers discussing various proposals to end prohibition and pursue a legal cannabis system that emphasizes social equity and restorative justice.
Title told Marijuana Moment that it’s “wonderful and should be celebrated that top elected officials who were actively opposing legalization just a few years ago are now on board with the conversation for how, not whether, to legalize federally.”
“But that progress makes it more important than ever to focus on the goal of ending prohibition, which is justice, and not allow a focus on corporate-friendly reforms to lose sight of that goal,” she said. “Seeing that as a given, my purpose in this conversation is to share lessons learned thus far in implementing justice while ending prohibition.”
Lee, who is co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, has been a leader on cannabis reform and ensuring that racial justice is a key component of any legalization plan. She filed legislation in February to end prohibition, protect states with legal cannabis systems from federal intervention and encourage states and localities to adopt practices that promote diversity and inclusiveness in the marijuana industry.
Inslee also supports legalization, but that wasn’t always the case. The candidate has at times seemingly taken credit for Washington’s decision to legalize cannabis in 2012 even though he unsuccessfully urged his state’s voters to reject the initiative ahead of its approval.
Photo by Sam Doucette on Unsplash.
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