White House hopeful Andrew Yang would do more than just end the federal government’s prohibition on marijuana if elected president, the Democratic candidate said Wednesday.
“I would legalize marijuana and then I would pardon everyone who’s in jail for a nonviolent, drug-related offense,” Mr. Yang said at an event in Manhattan. “I would pardon them all on April 20, 2021, and I would high-five them on the way out of jail.”
Mr. Yang made the ambitious campaign promise while discussing criminal justice reform at a convention hosted by the National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton, where the corporate attorney-turned-entrepreneur was among several Democratic presidential hopefuls scheduled to appear this week.
His comments were first reported by Marijuana Moment, a cannabis news site.
Mr. Yang, 44, was listed on the convention’s schedule alongside a handful of fellow candidates currently planning on competing against President Trump in 2020, including Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Democratic candidates practically across the board have put their weight behind legalizing marijuana if elected. Marijuana is currently prohibited under federal law but legal in most states for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Mr. Booker has introduced a bill backed by several fellow White House hopefuls — including Ms. Harris, Ms. Warren and fellow Democratic contenders Sens. Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — that would end federal prohibition and expunge certain marijuana-related criminal records if passed.
Mr. Yang is the first candidate to promise high-fives, however, and of all days on April 20, or “4/20,” a holiday of sorts celebrated by marijuana enthusiasts.
Mr. Yang’s presidential campaign has raised $1.7 million during the first quarter of 2019, according to paperwork filed this week. He previously said he received campaign contributions from over 65,000 individual donors, meeting one of the thresholds needed to qualify to appear alongside Democratic candidates on the debate stage.