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Donald Trump 2020 Republican Rival Joe Walsh Voices Stance on Legalizing Marijuana in All States

Raechel Donahue

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Donald Trump 2020 Republican Rival Joe Walsh Voices Stance on Legalizing Marijuana in All States
  • Republican Joe Walsh has repeatedly stated support for medical marijuana on social media and in his podcast.
  • Walsh has acknowledged several racist statements he’s made, while leaving racial disparities out of his advocacy for cannabis reform.

Joe Walsh, a Republican who formerly served as a congressman from Illinois from 2011 to 2013, has spent much of his career condemning the prohibition of cannabis. If the recent reports are any indication of what’s to come, he won’t step off of this platform anytime soon. On August 25th, Walsh expressed that he’s seeing primary challenges against President Donald Trump.

During his single term in Congress, Walsh wasn’t connected to any sponsoring or co-sponsoring opportunity for cannabis legislation. However, when a 2012 floor amendment arose to prevent the federal government from intervening in medical cannabis programs at the state level, he voted in favor of the proposal. He added that the federal government has bigger issues to concern themselves with than keeping the cannabis prohibition. In fact, in subsequent tweets, he said that, if the choice was his, he would “legalize marijuana tomorrow.”

So far, there have been two big platforms that Walsh has used to express his support for marijuana reform – social media and his radio show. On both Twitter and Facebook, Walsh has spoken in favor of legalization and has criticized the constant enforcement of prohibition. His stance often involves a new perspective on civil liberties, while comparing the way that cannabis is regulated and banned with the path that alcohol has taken.

In one Twitter post, he boldly states, “It’s time. Legalize Marijuana.” He added that anyone that is of legal drinking age should have the same ability to “smoke a joint.” The post was made in collaboration with a link to a Washington Examiner article that showed over half of the public in favor of cannabis legalization in October last year.

Another tweet showed that legalization of cannabis is a current concern in Michigan, which Walsh stated that the substance was “legalized in every state.” In this post, which he created in April 2018 he also said that anyone over age 21 should be equally able to use cannabis and consume alcohol.

 

Even earlier, in June 2017, Walsh posted an article from CBS News, showing that New York’s legalization consideration was to help with menstrual cramps. Notably, a recent pitch to legalize recreational cannabis was shot down this summer, followed by the state opting for decriminalization instead. Walsh has a much different stance, demanding two years ago that marijuana be legalized “for any adult” and “for any reason.”

More recently in April, Illinois became the 11th state to officially legalize marijuana, which was a major victory for Illinois-based Walsh. In a celebratory tweet, he posted that despite being “a bankrupt disaster,” the state managed to do “one thing right” in opting for legalization.

A month later, Walsh made similar statements when the legislation in Illinois made it out of the state House. Just like other posts, he again stated support for being able to “smoke a joint” just as legally as they can “drink whiskey” by 21 years old.

In June this year, Walsh hosted a podcast, implying that he didn’t have faith in the ability of Illinois to actually bring in revenue from selling marijuana legally. He even added that the state would ultimately “figure out a way to screw this up as well.”

The issue of marijuana legalization is likely to be a major topic of discussion in the upcoming election, as almost all of the Democratic presidential candidates have taken a stance. While many of the candidates have spoken about the racial justice associated with legalization, that doesn’t seem to be a factor for Walsh, despite being Republican. However, he’s also recognized several racist statements that he’s made regarding people of color and criticized other Republicans for opposing cannabis reform.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions had withdrawn guidance from the Obama administration on the priority that marijuana enforcement has, and Walsh wasted no time on condemning that move. He tweeted that Jeff Sessions should “leave weed alone” and that the substance needs to “be legalized.”

However, that wasn’t enough. He took the time to write out a much longer tweet, saying that states should have the right to legalize medical marijuana, while the federal government steps back. Instead of worrying about keeping prohibition of cannabis alive, he told the former attorney general to “focus on the illegals committing crimes & killing Americans in sanctuary cities & sanctuary states.”

Then-Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the decision by Sanders, which Walsh used as an opportunity to call her out.

While the United States may be behind where Walsh would prefer it to be, he made sure to address Canada’s decision to legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use. He still drew the attention back to the US, saying that it “should be legal here” as well.

On a personal level, Walsh admits that he has personally smoked marijuana “a long, long, long time ago.”

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