In fact, the top 11 highest-polling declared Democratic presidential candidates (plus a bunch in the lower tiers, notably Rep. Tulsi Gabbard [D–Hawaii]) have all backed some form of ending the federal prohibition of marijuana, fewer than four years after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) became the first major-party candidate in history to do so. Several in fact have become legislative leaders on this issue, especially Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), plus former congressman Beto O’Rourke.
As popular opinion and state law speeds toward legalizing recreational weed, and a tough-on-crime Republican president frees prisoners and advances criminal justice reform, former drug warriors are scrambling to catch up with the times. The last holdout here may be still-undeclared candidate Joe Biden, who invented the office of the drug czar, spearheaded some of the very worst criminal justice laws of the past four decades, and said while vice president that legalization is a “mistake” because marijuana is a “gateway drug.”