7 House Candidates that Support Legalization

By Amelia B.
As the midterm elections draw ever nearer, we’re here to educate you on which candidates will help further decriminalization and legalization efforts.

Some of these individuals have received official endorsement from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Political Action Committee (PAC).  

California

1. Ro Khanna

Democratic incumbent for California’s 17th congressional district vs. Republican Ron Cohen

undefined

Philadelphia-born American academic, lawyer and politician Ro Khanna will pass any purity test Democrats could throw at him. He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary under Obama and is one of 6 total members of the House who only accepts donations from individuals, refusing to take money from Political Actions Committees (PACs and Super PACs).

Khanna’s major political aims include banning PAC and lobbyist money, debt-free college, women’s rights, and Clean Tech Investments. On top of all that, he has been a supporter of legalizing cannabis for years. He posted on Facebook June 18th, 2017, ”Legalizing marijuana is a no-brainer! Just look at Colorado. The economic value is astronomical.”

“Legalizing marijuana nationwide would create over a million jobs and begin to roll back the disastrous “war on drugs” which has ruined countless lives,” he tweeted in May.  Let’s take money out of the black market and put it into the hands of legitimate cannabis businesses.”

Khanna holds an official endorsement from NORML.

2. Barbra Lee

Democratic incumbent for California’s 13th congressional district vs. Green Party candidate Laura Wells.

undefined

 A vital member of the House of Representatives since 1998, El Paso, TX native Barbara Lee is the current Whip for the Congressional Progressive Caucus and one of the democratic party’s safest bets in the November midterm.

Lee made history in 2001 after being the only member of Congress to vote against the use of force in response to the September 11th attacks. This bold move, as well as her criticism of the War in Iraq, has made her a champion of the anti-war movement. She is a vocal supporter of legislation to create a Department of Peace.

Representative Lee has also been a longtime supporter of legalization. In January, she introduced the Restricting Excessive Federal Enforcement and Regulations of Cannabis (REFER) Act, to prevent federal government interference in state and local marijuana laws.

Congresswoman Lee has also been a proponent of federal legalization, saying, “The majority of Americans -- including Republican voters -- favor legalization. Congress should insist the will of the people is respected by our federal government."

Barbara Lee’s  concern as we move toward legalization lies in inclusion, saying we must “ learn from the failed War on Drugs and ensure that entrepreneurs of color are included in this expanding industry.”

NORML gave Representative Lee a glowing endorsement. “We are exceptionally pleased to endorse Representative Barbara Lee, the lead sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act... Rep. Lee has been a long time champion of reform. She has been instrumental to the recent explosion of support at the federal level and is a tremendous advocate for her constituents.”

3. Ted Lieu

Democratic Incumbent for California’s 33rd congressional district vs. Republican Kenneth Wright. 

undefined

As a Colonel in the US. Air Force Reserves since retiring from four years of active duty in 1999, this Taiwan native serves as a military prosecutor and adviser to commanders. He is known for authoring a bill to ban gay conversion therapy for minors and as a vocal critic of the Trump Administration’s family separation policy.

The Colonel has asserted himself as a leader on the civil liberties, cybersecurity, veterans, and the environment, as well as being a proponent of federal legalization. He has co-authored several bills that allow for legalization as well as legal banking for canna-businesses.

He was among the first to criticize Jeff Sessions’ January decision to rescind a policy protecting marijuana businesses prosecution. With his typical flippant sense of humor, he tweeted at Sessions, “Let me give you a list of things more important for federal prosecutors and federal law enforcement to pursue other than marijuana: 1. Basically anything.”

Ted Lieu has been endorsed by NORML

Hawaii

4. Tulsi Gabbard

Democratic Incumbent for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district vs. Republican Brian Evans

undefined

The former vice chair of the DNC, Tulsi Gabbard, made a name for herself when she famously resigned to endorse and support Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Presidential Democratic Primary.

This woman literally could not get any cooler. Throughout her life, Tulsi has made a practice of making history.

At 21, she became the youngest person to ever be elected to Hawaii State Legislature. While serving, she joined the Army National Guard and volunteered to deploy with her fellow soldiers in 2004, becoming the first state official to voluntarily step down to serve in a war zone.

In  2012, she was elected to the House of Representatives, becoming the nation’s first Hindu congress member, as well as one of the first two female combat veterans to serve in Congress. She takes her war veteran status seriously, fighting for access to marijuana and MDMA for fellow soldiers suffering from chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and PTSD,

NORML issued this enthusiastic statement along with their endorsement.  “We are happy to endorse Representative Tulsi Gabbard, the lead sponsor of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would end the failed national policy of cannabis prohibition.”

“Rep. Gabbard is never afraid to speak truth to power and has been one of the most sensible voices in the Congress on improving public policy.”

New York

5. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez

Democratic candidate for New York’s 14th congressional district vs. Republican Anthony Pappas

undefined

American Politician, educator, and political activist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made major headlines when she unseated incumbent Joe Crowley in the Democratic primary this summer. This incredible victory for a working-class bartender with a grassroots campaign was a surprise to everyone, including self-described democratic socialist Ocasio-Cortez.

Following in the footsteps of her idol and mentor, Bernie Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez runs on a very similar platform. She also supports full legalization as well as reparations for those who’ve faced marijuana-related convictions in the past.

Her January 16 tweet reads, “Legalizing cannabis and addressing those imprisoned by the war on drugs must be part of the same conversation.”

On April 30th she tweeted further aims the House hopeful has if elected, “ Legalize cannabis is clear. 100% Renewable energy is clear. Tuition-free College is clear. Close 50% of prisons is clear. Abolish ICE is clear. Clarity isn’t radical. It’s common sense.”

Pennsylvania

6. Dwight Evans

Democratic incumbent for Pennsylvania’s 3rd congressional district vs. Republican Brian Leib

undefined

Having grown up in North Philly, Dwight Evans has served in the House of Representatives since 1981. He has dedicated his career to urban renewal and providing economic and educational opportunities for the poor. His drive to combat hunger and increase access to quality nutrition led to the Fresh Food Financing Initiative adopted by Barack Obama.

Congressmen Evans was the first African American to Chair the House of Appropriations Committee, a position he held for over two decades. There, he worked to help his state receive funding for economic development, job training, education, infrastructure, and the arts.

He has co-sponsored the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, and when it comes to legalizing marijuana on a federal level, Evans said he would be ”1,000% on board with that. This is what the people want in this state.”

”I think that the whole aspect of moving in the direction of recreational marijuana is something that we should do because there are many opportunities in that,” explained Representative Evans.

Dwight Evans has been given an official NORML endorsement.

Tennessee

7. Steve Cohen

Democratic candidate for Tennessee’s 9th congressional district vs. Republican Charlotte Bergman

undefined

Having served in the Senate for 24 years, Memphis-born Steve Cohen moved to the House in 2007. When asked what his first political inspiration was, he cites contracting polio at age 5, which shifted his focus from sports to politics and getting to meet his childhood hero, John F. Kennedy.  

During his time in Congress, Cohen has been a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and worked for many civil rights and environmental issues. Cohen aims at working to close gun control loopholes, expanding funding for alternative energy research and development, and gaining adequate healthcare for all.

Having been a supporter of both medical and recreational legalization, Cohen led a bipartisan medical marijuana bill in 2015, saying, “Republicans and Democrats agree: the federal law on medical marijuana is outdated, out of touch, and needs to change.”

NORML has granted an official endorsement to Steve Cohen.

Vote and Help Your Friends Vote

Whether you live in a state where a cannabis-friendly politician is up for election or not, your vote MATTERS! The more progressive a candidate is, the higher the likelihood he or she will end up supporting legalization if constituents demand it. And let's be real, the human rights violations committed by the Trump Administration should be a bigger deal than the government keeping you from your pot. 

If you know someone residing in a state where one of these candidates is running, take time to make sure they understand the stakes of their vote. If you know someone who may not have a ride to the polls, be the political hero you know you can be and give them a lift! Make sure all your friends are voting blue. The future of your weed depends on it.

Citations

1.NORML NORML PAC Announces New Slate of Congressional Endorsements. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from http://blog.norml.org/2018/09/11/norml-pac-announces-new-slate-of-congressional-endorsements/

2. Democrat Ro Khanna Applauds Peter Thiel for Republican Convention Speech. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from https://www.breitbart.com/california/2016/07/23/democrat-ro-khanna-applauds-peter-thiel-blasts-mike-hondas-hypocrisy/

3.Casey Tolan Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee considers bid for House leadership in wake of Ocasio-Cortez win. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/06/28/barbara-lee-house-leadership-joe-crowley-alexandria-ocasio-cortez/

4. Proposed U.S. Department of Peacebuilding (H.R. 1111). Retrieved October 10, 2018 from https://peacealliance.org/issues-advocacy/department-of-peace/

5.Barbara Lee Rep. Barbara Lee Statement on AG Sessions' Attack on Legal Marijuana Industry. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from https://votesmart.org/public-statement/1217852/rep-barbara-lee-statement-on-ag-sessions-attack-on-legal-marijuana-industry#.W7zv6WhKgdU

6. Congresswoman Lee Introduces Resolution on Equality & Inclusion in Cannabis Industry. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from https://lee.house.gov/news/press-releases/congresswoman-lee-introduces-resolution-on-equality-and-inclusion-in-cannabis-industry

7. Democrat Ted Lieu Walks Out of Moment of Silence for Texas Victims. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from https://www.breitbart.com/california/2017/11/07/democrat-ted-lieu-walks-moment-silence-texas-victims/

8.Aulani Kaaihue BUDDHISM AND HINDUISM. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from http://hawaiisholywar2016.blogspot.com/2016/08/buddhism-and-hinduism.html

9.MICHAEL PYSKATY Ocasio-Cortez defends banning press from campaign event. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from https://www.yahoo.com/gma/ocasio-cortez-defends-banning-press-campaign-event-013100657.html

10.John Baer Dwight Evans has new weapons as he aims again for higher office. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/20151118_Dwight_Evans_has_new_weapons_as_he_aims_again_for_higher_office.html

11. About. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from https://evans.house.gov/about

12.Danilo Castro Congressman Steve Cohen: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from https://heavy.com/news/2017/08/congressman-steve-cohen-impeachment-trump-career-sexuality-children-photos/

13.Press Release Bipartisan Medical Marijuana Bill Gains Momentum in House and Senate. Retrieved October 10, 2018 from https://cohen.house.gov/press-release/bipartisan-medical-marijuana-bill-gains-momentum-house-and-senate

About the author: Amelia B.

Amelia B is a wife, a preschool teacher, and a mother of two young children. She enjoys camping, hiking, cooking, reading, traveling, listening to live local music, refurbishing furniture, and creating works of art.