Democratic National Committee delegates voted Monday against including marijuana legalization in the party’s official platform but left in place language backing decriminalization.
By a vote of 106-50, DNC delegates rejected a proposed amendment to the party’s 2020 platform supporting federal marijuana legalization. Three delegates abstained from voting.
Dennis Obduskey, a DNC delegate from Colorado who offered the amendment, pitched his proposal by asking fellow Democrats to view it through the lens of criminal justice reform.
“We cannot ignore the fact that the current marijuana criminalization policy has in too many cases been used to target people of color,” Mr. Obduskey said during a virtual meeting of DNC delegates. “They are unfairly and disproportionately six times more likely to be arrested than other citizens.”
Although the amendment favoring marijuana legalization ultimately failed, the draft 2020 platform being considered by Democrats does contain language supporting decriminalization.
“Democrats will decriminalize marijuana use and reschedule it through executive action on the federal level,” the draft platform reads in part. “We will support legalization of medical marijuana, and believe states should be able to make their own decisions about recreational use. The Justice Department should not launch federal prosecutions of conduct that is legal at the state level. All past criminal convictions for cannabis use should be automatically expunged.”
Marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, effectively making it illegal as far as the U.S. federal government is concerned. Most states have legalized pot for medicinal or recreational purposes, however, including nine where it is regulated, taxed and sold at retail shops.
The DNC is expected to vote on its platform during next month’s Democratic National Convention, which is being held virtually due to the continuing novel coronavirus pandemic.
Joseph R. Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has previously come out in support of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. He has not spoken in support of federal legalization.