- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 14, 2019

Beto O’Rourke called for federally legalizing marijuana Thursday morning shortly after formally announcing his plans to seek the presidency in 2020.

“We should end the federal prohibition on marijuana,” Mr. O’Rourke said at an event in Keokuk, Iowa. “We can free ourselves from the distinction of being the country that imprisons more of its fellow citizens than any other country on the face of the planet, and guess what? By and large, they do not look like this room. They are browner and blacker than most of America.”

“Though people in this country use illegal drugs at the same rate no matter where they are, only some face arrest, faced imprisonment, and when they get out, forced to check a box that says they have a conviction, which diminishes their opportunities in life, to hold a job, to raise a family, to get a student loan, to be successful,” Mr. O’Rourke said at The Lost Canvas coffee shop. “For all those reasons, let’s end the prohibition on marijuana. “

A former member of Congress who unsuccessfully campaigned in 2018 against incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, Mr. O’Rourke formally announced his plans to pursue the Democratic Party’s nomination.

“I want to be in it,” Mr. O’Rourke told Vanity Fair. “Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment.”

His announcement made Mr. O’Rourke, 46, the latest addition to a growing list of politicians planning to compete against Mr. Trump in 2020, placing the presidential hopeful in a category with more than a dozen other Democrats seeking the party’s nod.

He is hardly the first to support legalizing marijuana, however, which is prohibited under federal law but permitted in most states for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Several other 2020 hopefuls have previously said they would support ending marijuana prohibition if elected, including Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kristen Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, in addition to Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, among others.

Thirty-three states have legalized marijuana to one degree or another, including seven where the plant can be purchased for recreational purposes from licensed retailers.

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