If Kentucky Rep. Charles Booker (D) wins his primary race for U.S. Senate– and initial voting returns from Tuesday’s election put him in the lead so far– the general election matchup heading up to November will see the pro-marijuana legalization prospect face off versus among the most effective obstacles to reform in Congress: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
The primary election hasn’t been called yet, however, as votes are being counted, Booker is presently ahead by about 4 percentage points against rival Amy McGrath, a military veteran who supports medical marijuana legalization however is calling for additional studies before she backs broader reform.
Booker, who likewise supports more broadly legalizing drug possession, made clear in a speech on election night that he would focus on marijuana reform in the Senate if he defeats the body’s GOP leader on Election Day.
” We deserve a commonwealth where we do not criminalize a plant, where we don’t throw individuals away that are experiencing pain and injury, where we are not dealing with among the greatest incarceration rates on earth because we criminalize hardship,” he stated. “We can break these chains, and we have actually got to do it.”
Watch Booker talk about the requirement to end marijuana criminalization listed below, beginning around 9: 50:
It’s not simply campaign rhetoric, either.
Throughout his time in the Kentucky House, the lawmaker has actually ben the lead sponsor of two bills to decriminalize cannabis ownership, consisting of one that would have offered expungements of previous cannabis convictions. The version this year would have made it so the charge for having approximately 100 grams of cannabis would be a $100 fine.
This session, I filed legislation to legalize cannabis ownership. It is past time that we lastly enable households and communities to heal. Legislate it, commute sentences, expunge records, supply assistance for marginalized neighborhoods to benefit from the new economy. #420 day
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) April 20, 2019
I submitted a bill to decriminalize at the state level last session, and am preparing a new draft now.
We know it is time for reform.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) June 26, 2019
Today, I filed legislation to legalize marijuana ownership. This bill has actually been pushed with bipartisan assistance in the past, and it is time we take this essential action to bring more equity to our justice system.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) February 7, 2019
Honored to be a part of making history, herstory, theirstory, and outstory today.
Minutes earlier, the Kentucky House of Representatives passed a bill to legislate medical marijuana. Proud to co-sponsor this crucial step towards assisting families relieve their discomfort.
A great day.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) February 20, 2020
Another medical marijuana bill he cosponsored last year lost consciousness of committee however did not move even more
What a day!!!
Our bill to provide emergency prescription refills for diabetics (HB 64) passed out of Senate Health & Welfare! Thank you again, @drdanbentley!
PLUS, our expense to legalize medical cannabis (HB 136) passed out of your home Judiciary! Shout out to @jmnemes!
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) March 7, 2019
Booker was also one of 3 cosponsors of a costs to legalize cannabis for adult usage that did not advance. It would have developed a system of licensed companies to grow, process, transport and sell cannabis and permitted individuals to get a $250 allow to mature to 5 fully grown plants and five seedlings in your home. It also proposed a procedure to expunge misdemeanor cannabis records.
” Full legalization and decriminalization of marijuana will enable us to empower individuals instead of prosecuting them; it will enable us to spend less taxpayer dollars on unnecessarily locking people up and to generate much-needed additional income for state and local governments; and it will offer us a non-opioid solution for individuals experiencing discomfort,” his project website states
When it comes to a post-prohibition world, Booker wants to make sure that communities targeted by the war on drugs are made entire.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) November 26, 2019
— Complete legalization
— Expungement of records
— Treatment, education, and support over criminalization
— Direct access to capital and entrepreneurial opportunities for marginalized communities historically targeted by the war on drugs
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) October 25, 2019
On social media, the candidate has actually regularly gone over drug policy reform, requiring legalization and decriminalization as a criminal justice reform concern.
Legislating cannabis is about righting a big incorrect. It is about acknowledging our history, and accepting that our method now is contrary to our objectives of a more secure, much healthier society.
Legalize. Expunge. Commute. Empower. Heal.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) August 28, 2019
Though excellent news, this is yet another example of why all of us need to be ill and tired of corruption and structural inequity.
Meanwhile, we still need to move mountains to decriminalize marijuana and make sure that loose cigarettes do not warrant a suffocating chokehold. https://t.co/NywbzBKDmj
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) August 27, 2019
He has actually likewise spoken more broadly about the requirement to treat substance abuse as a health issue, instead of with a criminal justice approach.
” Charles also supports broader decriminalization of substance abuse, and increased treatment supports for people founded guilty of drug-related offenses,” his project website says “To make sure the goal of our justice system is to assist individuals recover, and not profit from the jail commercial complex, Charles supports an end to private jails.”
Went to a neighborhood conversation on opioid abuse. It is critical we ensure all Kentuckians have actually the assistances required to avoid & beat addiction. Let’s finally treat the problem of substance abuse, rather of just criminalizing people in requirement. @AndyBeshearKY thanks for your management! pic.twitter.com/4Q3sSGj7Xi
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) July 26, 2018
I frequently hear it stated that we can not enable weapon violence to become the standard. Unfortunately however, it already is, and we already have. We permit it in our weak laws on weapon safety. We permit it in our continued policies that focus poverty and criminalize substance abuse instead of treatment.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) August 26, 2018
McGrath, on the other hand, has actually likewise discussed cannabis policy on her social media accounts and campaign site, though her proposals and declarations have not been almost as far-reaching.
In 2018, she voiced support for a veterans group calling for the federal rescheduling of marijuana and said there need to be increased research into the plant’s prospective restorative benefits.
I’m happy to stand with @AmericanLegion in calling for the elimination of #cannabis from Schedule I, and requiring more research into the effectiveness of #MMJ in treating #PTSD, #ChronicPain and other ailments #veterans face.
— Amy McGrath (@AmyMcGrathKY) January 18, 2018
Under a veterans-focused area of her project website, she mentions that “veterans experiencing chronic pain and PTSD report enhanced health outcomes from medical marijuana.”
” I stand with the American Legion in requiring the removal of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug and allow its usage to deal with ailments that veterans, and others, face,” McGrath stated “It may also minimize reliance on opioids for discomfort relief and that alone is a significant reason to think about moving in that direction.”
Unlike Booker, she isn’t prepared to support complete marijuana legalization.
” On the concern of full legalization, I want to see our government license full research study on the subject,” McGrath said in a Facebook post. “The Schedule 1 classification suggests that we can’t even perform studies on the effect of legalization. Perhaps it’s the military officer in me, however I’m all about thoughtful preparation and research study prior to diving head initially into fully opening that door.”
If Booker prevails in his primary race when all the votes are counted, drug policy will represent an area of substantial contrast in between him and McConnell, who has championed and campaigned on hemp legalization but continues to denounce what he calls the crop’s “illicit cousin,” cannabis.
But like McConnell, the state lawmaker and prospective challenger has actually also revealed gratitude for the innovativeness of Kentucky’s hemp market. In 2016, for instance, he shared a photo of a menu including “hemp-infused beef hot dogs” at the Kentucky State Fair.
— Charles Booker (@Booker4KY) August 18, 2016
” Yeah, that happened today!” he said.
Photo thanks to Philip Steffan