If Kentucky Rep. Charles Booker (D) wins his main race for U.S. Senate—and preliminary voting returns from Tuesday’s election put him within the lead to this point—the overall election matchup heading as much as November will see the pro-marijuana legalization candidate face off in opposition to one of the vital highly effective obstacles to reform in Congress: Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
The first election hasn’t been referred to as but, however, as votes are being counted, Booker is at present forward by about 4 share factors in opposition to competitor Amy McGrath, a army veteran who helps medical hashish legalization however is looking for added research earlier than she backs broader reform.
Booker, who additionally helps extra broadly decriminalizing drug possession, made clear in a speech on election evening that he would prioritize marijuana reform within the Senate if he defeats the physique’s GOP chief on Election Day.
“We deserve a commonwealth where we don’t criminalize a plant, where we don’t throw people away that are suffering from pain and trauma, where we are not dealing with one of the highest incarceration rates on the planet because we criminalize poverty,” he mentioned. “We can break these chains, and we’ve got to do it.”
Watch Booker speak about the necessity to finish marijuana criminalization beneath, beginning round 9:50:
It’s not simply marketing campaign rhetoric, both.
Throughout his time within the Kentucky Home, the legislator has ben the lead sponsor of two payments to decriminalize hashish possession, together with one that might have offered for expungements of prior marijuana convictions. The model this 12 months would have made it so the penalty for possessing as much as 100 grams of marijuana can be a $100 positive.
This session, I filed laws to decriminalize marijuana possession. It’s previous time that we lastly enable households and communities to heal. Legalize it, commute sentences, expunge data, present help for marginalized communities to profit from the brand new economic system.#420day
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) April 20, 2019
I filed a invoice to decriminalize on the state stage final session, and am making ready a brand new draft now. We all know the disparate hurt in criminalizing private possession. We all know the long run injury brought on to those that get trapped within the justice system.
We all know it’s time for reform.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) June 26, 2019
Right this moment, I filed laws to decriminalize marijuana possession. This invoice has been pushed with bipartisan help prior to now, and it’s time we take this vital step to convey extra fairness to our justice system.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) February 7, 2019
He was a cosponsor of laws to legalize medical hashish within the state that cleared the Home in February however later stalled out within the Senate.
Honored to be part of making historical past, herstory, theirstory, and outstory immediately.
Moments in the past, the Kentucky Home of Representatives handed a invoice to legalize medical hashish. Proud to co-sponsor this vital step towards serving to households ease their ache.
A great day, certainly.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) February 20, 2020
One other medical marijuana invoice he cosponsored final 12 months handed out of committee however didn’t transfer additional.
What a day!!!
Our invoice to offer emergency prescription refills for diabetics (HB 64) handed out of Senate Well being & Welfare! Thanks once more, @drdanbentley!
PLUS, our invoice to legalize medical marijuana (HB 136) handed out of the Home Judiciary! Shout out to @jmnemes!
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) March 7, 2019
Booker was additionally one among three cosponsors of a invoice to legalize marijuana for grownup use that didn’t advance. It could have created a system of licensed companies to develop, course of, transport and promote hashish and allowed folks to get a $250 allow to develop as much as 5 mature crops and 5 seedlings at residence. It additionally proposed a course of to expunge misdemeanor hashish data.
“Full legalization and decriminalization of marijuana will allow us to empower people instead of prosecuting them; it will allow us to spend fewer taxpayer dollars on needlessly locking people up and to bring in much-needed additional revenue for state and local governments; and it will give us a non-opioid solution for people experiencing pain,” his marketing campaign web site says.
In relation to a post-prohibition world, Booker desires to be sure that communities focused by the struggle on medication are made complete.
Agreed. I’m for legalization, expungement of data, and direct pathways to financial alternative for communities which have been straight devastated by the struggle on medication. I’ve co-sponsored bipartisan laws on this within the Home, and can maintain combating for reform.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) November 26, 2019
– Full legalization
– Expungement of data
– Remedy, training, and help over criminalization
– Direct entry to capital and entrepreneurial alternatives for marginalized communities traditionally focused by the struggle on medication
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) October 25, 2019
On social media, the candidate has persistently mentioned drug coverage reform, calling for legalization and decriminalization as a legal justice reform precedence.
Legalizing marijuana is about righting an enormous unsuitable. It’s about acknowledging our historical past, and accepting that our strategy now could be opposite to our targets of a safer, more healthy society.
Legalize. Expunge. Commute. Empower. Heal.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) August 28, 2019
Although nice information, that is yet one more instance of why all of us needs to be sick and uninterested in corruption and structural inequity.
In the meantime, we nonetheless have to maneuver mountains to decriminalize marijuana and be certain that free cigarettes don’t advantage a suffocating chokehold. https://t.co/NywbzBKDmj
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) August 27, 2019
He has additionally spoken extra broadly about the necessity to deal with drug use as a well being difficulty, as an alternative of with a legal justice strategy.
“Charles also supports broader decriminalization of drug use, and increased treatment supports for people convicted of drug-related offenses,” his marketing campaign web site says. “To make sure the goal of our justice system is to help people heal, and not profit from the prison industrial complex, Charles supports an end to private prisons.”
Attended a group dialogue on opioid abuse. It’s crucial we be sure all Kentuckians have the helps wanted to keep away from & beat habit. Let’s lastly deal with the problem of drug abuse, as an alternative of merely criminalizing folks in want. @AndyBeshearKY thanks on your management! pic.twitter.com/4Q3sSGj7Xi
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) July 26, 2018
I typically hear it mentioned that we can not enable gun violence to develop into the norm. Sadly although, it already is, and we have already got. We enable it in our weak legal guidelines on gun security. We enable it in our continued insurance policies that focus poverty and criminalize drug use as an alternative of therapy.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) August 26, 2018
McGrath, in the meantime, has additionally mentioned hashish coverage on her social media accounts and marketing campaign website, although her proposals and statements haven’t been almost as far-reaching.
In 2018, she voiced help for a veterans group calling for the federal rescheduling of marijuana and mentioned there needs to be elevated analysis into the plant’s potential therapeutic advantages.
I’m proud to face with @AmericanLegion in calling for the removing of #hashish from Schedule I, and calling for extra analysis into the efficacy of #MMJ in treating #PTSD, #ChronicPain and different illnesses #veterans face.
— Amy McGrath (@AmyMcGrathKY) January 18, 2018
Beneath a veterans-focused part of her marketing campaign website, she states that “veterans suffering from chronic pain and PTSD report improved health outcomes from medical cannabis.”
“I stand with the American Legion in calling for the removal of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug and permit its use to treat ailments that veterans, and others, face,” McGrath mentioned. “It may also alleviate dependence on opioids for pain relief and that alone is a meaningful reason to consider moving in that direction.”
In contrast to Booker, she isn’t able to help full marijuana legalization, nevertheless.
“On the issue of full legalization, I’d like to see our government permit full research on the subject,” McGrath mentioned in a Fb submit. “The Schedule 1 classification means that we can’t even conduct studies on the effect of legalization. Perhaps it’s the military officer in me, but I’m all about thoughtful planning and research before diving head first into fully opening that door.”
If Booker prevails in his main race when all of the votes are counted, drug coverage will characterize an space of great distinction between him and McConnell, who has championed and campaigned on hemp legalization however continues to denounce what he calls the crop’s “illicit cousin,” marijuana.
However like McConnell, the state lawmaker and would-be challenger has additionally proven appreciation for the innovativeness of Kentucky’s hemp market. In 2016, for instance, he shared an image of a menu that includes “hemp-infused beef hot dogs” on the Kentucky State Honest.
Hemp hotdogs. Yeah, that occurred immediately! #kystatefair #kyproud #hemp pic.twitter.com/jban1w9aaQ
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) August 18, 2016
“Yeah, that happened today!” he mentioned.
Virginia Black Lawmakers Push To Legalize Marijuana In Particular Session This Summer season
Photograph courtesy of Philip Steffan.
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