Recreational cannabis is now legal in 11 states and Washington, DC; 33 states, DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands have legalized medical cannabis. Thus, it’s no surprise that politicians on all sides of the aisle are starting to discuss a new future for a national weed policy.
Bob McCluskey, the republican candidate for Larimer County Commissioner for District 2, is focused on jobs in Larimer County with an aim to reduce burdensome regulations and keep taxes low for job creators. He promises to protect our natural spaces and preserve property rights for farmers and ranchers. Creating new jobs is his top priority with the goal of creating new primary jobs, expanding the small business loan program to support local businesses, and promote retraining our workforce. McClusky also believes we need to support expanding our high-speed internet to rural areas to encourage the remote workforce.
Kristin Stephens, the District 2 democrat candidate, believes that cannabis companies should continue to be integrated as normal businesses in Northern Colorado, as they have for the last six plus years. She also believes that Larimer County can be a leader on climate change and resiliency efforts and will work with local leaders on developing robust climate action plans. Stephens is also focused on affordable housing and childcare, as that will boost the pool of skilled workers, solving a pain point for local businesses.
The Larimer County Commissioner candidate for District 3, Ben Aste thinks we need to continue to retain and attract new businesses by simplifying the process. His environmental stance includes conserving our water resources, maintaining open spaces and supporting recycling. Aste, as a local business owner, has been a stakeholder on three Larimer County concerns: Big Thompson reclamation, Highway 402 expansion and the county’s Waste Shed Project. Aste’s business experience makes him believe that we need to soften codes, fees and requirements on new business startups to promote growth in the county.
Candidate Joe Biden, on the other hand, has expressed explicit support for federal policy change. Earlier this year, he released a plan that would decriminalize cannabis and expunge prior consumption convictions. And he supports lifting the Schedule 1 classification on the plant to facilitate research, and is in favor of legalizing it for medical purposes. Furthermore, his running mate, Kamala Harris is the Senate’s sponsor of the MORE Act.
According to the website GreenState.com, despite early concerns, current President Donald Trump has largely left cannabis decisions up to the states. While he hasn’t sent the Feds after Colorado’s booming industry, he has also done nothing to support it. There has been some recent speculation that he could approve the MORE Act—decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level—if passed by Congress, but he has advised Republicans to keep the issue off their local ballots.
When Colorado first legalized cannabis in 2012, then-governor John Hickenlooper spoke out against the change. Nonetheless, once approved, he helped build a model that would allow for the regulated commercial cultivation, production, and sale of cannabis. Despite his fledgling support for the policy, in 2018 Hickenlooper vetoed bills that would have added autism to the list of approved conditions for medical cannabis, permitted tasting rooms, and increased flexibility for cannabis investing opportunities. Since ending his tenure as governor and jumping onto the federal stage—first in the Democratic presidential primary and now as a candidate for Senator—the politician has expanded his official support for cannabis, calling for nationwide decriminalization and state-level decision-making about legalization.
Incumbent Senator Cory Gardner’s stance on cannabis has been mixed. While he has not supported any bills to legalize cannabis at the federal level, he has been one of the few GOP voices to speak up for changes to support the industry in states that have chosen to legalize. He vowed to hold up judicial nominees in the Senate unless President Trump and the Justice Department promised to leave Colorado’s cannabis industry alone, and subsequently introduced legislation to give that demand some teeth nationwide. In addition, in the near decade since Colorado legalized cannabis, Gardner has sponsored and co-sponsored several bills (some bipartisan) that would support the industry by protecting consumers and improving banking opportunities. As of Politico’s reporting in May of this year, however, none of these efforts had made it through the Senate.
Libertarian Raymon Anthony Doane says he will promote nationwide legalization of cannabis.
Because cannabis remains illegal at a federal level, states like Colorado still face barriers to consumption, cultivation, and sales. Despite the fact that the industry brings in about $1.7-billion annually, banking access remains nil, employees—especially immigrants—lack federal protections, research is still limited, and consumers face restrictions that extend beyond those favored by state and local governments.
However, as we head into an otherwise contention election year, it appears that the fight for changes to federal cannabis legislation increasingly spills across party lines. Here’s a brief rundown of positions held by some of the federal candidates you may see on your 2020 ballots.
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Larimer County Commissioners
Jody McNally, a democrat running for District 3 Larimer County Commissioner, believes smart growth is the way forward with support for communities, businesses and agriculture to grow while maintaining the quality of life for all residents. She also supports local control and community rights with regard to environmental and sustainability issues. McNally would also like to implement 1A ballot initiative, Mental Health Matters and provide oversight and guidance to the program. For COVID-19 recovery, she believes a regional approach to combine cities’ efforts to redeploy staff and aid business owners as they apply for DBA loans. She also believes we need to continue to advocate at the state and federal level for more resources to help overcome pandemic obstacles.
President & Vice President
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Representative to the 117th US Congress (District 2)
While Stephan “Seku” Evans does not explicitly mention cannabis as part of his official platform, he does support the abolishment of prisons and release of inmates convicted of low-level offenses.
Democratic incumbent Representative Joe Neguse does not cite cannabis policy as a top priority. However, his record indicates support for the industry, its employees, and consumers. Just recently, he has been an outspoken advocate for protections for citizenship applicants who have worked in Colorado’s cannabis industry. He has developed and sponsored legislation that enhances protections for states that have legalized cannabis.
As a member of the Approval Voting Party—aimed entirely at changing voting methods—candidate Daniel Doyle does not have an official stance on cannabis.
Thom Atkinson, a Libertarian, does not cite official positions on cannabis.
Charlie Winn is calling to “remove marijuana from the Federal Schedule 1 Class of narcotics.” He believes in legislation, regulation, and education rather than prohibition and wants to see cannabis consumers treated like alcohol drinkers. He has said, if elected, that he would join the Cannabis Caucus co-founded by Governor and former Representative Polis.
Gary Swing, of the Unity Party, does not cite official positions on cannabis.
Stephan “Seku” Evans
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Raymon Anthony Doane