Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York released a plan for the national legalization of marijuana on Wednesday, saying that she would make the issue a “top priority” of her presidency.
“America’s federal prohibition of marijuana needs to end now,” Gillibrand wrote.
Gillibrand said that the enforcement of cannabis prohibition laws has been harmful and unjust, noting that black Americans are more likely than whites to be arrested for non-violent marijuana offenses, despite numerous studies that have shown usage rates are consistent among races.
“The unfair enforcement of our current marijuana laws is a continuation of the institutional racism that has defined our criminal justice system for decades,” said Gillibrand. “This vestige of the War on Drugs has irreparably harmed too many lives and communities — predominantly black and brown ones.”
She also noted that legalization is a matter of public health, citing the medical uses of marijuana and the potential impact cannabis can have on the continuing opioid crisis in the United States.
“Millions of Americans seek medical marijuana to treat chronic or severe pain — often in an effort to avoid prescription opioids — but access is limited by insurance coverage and availability of medical marijuana dispensaries, even in states where medical