Mike Bloomberg releases criminal justice reform plan to decriminalize marijuana

Mike Bloomberg releases criminal justice reform plan to decriminalize marijuana

While the political jockeying gets more attention, candidates in the 2020 Democratic presidential race are advancing serious policy proposals. The Washington Times takes a weekly look at some of them that may have flown under the radar.


Former New York Mayor City Michael R. Bloomberg called for federally decriminalizing marijuana possession as part of a criminal justice reform plan his campaign released Tuesday.

Mr. Bloomberg stopped short of seeking to fully legalize marijuana, however, separating himself from most of his 2020 Democratic rivals.

“Mike believes that further scientific study is required to assess the health effects of marijuana. In the meantime, he believes that no one should go to jail for smoking or possessing it,” the Bloomberg campaign said in a 13-page policy brief.

“Mike supports decriminalizing possession of small amounts nationally and would commute all remaining sentences and expunge sentences from criminal records,” the campaign said. “He also believes that for the moment this is an issue best left to the states, taking public health and safety into account.”

Marijuana is prohibited under federal law, although many states have legalized its use for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Several other candidates competing for the Democratic nomination have proposed legalizing marijuana at the federal level if elected president, with Mr. Bloomberg and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden being the only top-tier 2020 contenders to support decriminalizing possession rather than outright ending prohibition.

Despite pursuing a less drastic policy than his fellow candidates, Mr. Bloomberg’s proposal to decriminalize marijuana possession is a reversal from his previous stance.

Sanders on Iran

Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont helped roll out legislation this week that aims to return the U.S. to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The legislation calls on the U.S. to support a return for all parties to “not less than full compliance” with the Obama-era deal. The legislation also would end the practice of threatening allies with economic penalties.

It also says the U.S. and other parties should seek to negotiate with Iran before 2023 in a way that closes off Iranian paths to a nuclear weapon.

Mr. Sanders said President Trump was “reckless” when he moved to withdraw from the deal.

“We strongly believe that the United States should rejoin that agreement and work with our allies — not against them as Trump is doing — to address a broader set of issues in the region,” he said.

Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts is the lead sponsor of the Iran Diplomacy Act, which also received backing from Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a rival of Mr. Sanders.

France, Germany and Great Britain last month triggered a dispute resolution clause in the agreement after Iran said it was no longer complying with terms of the deal. That announcement came shortly after a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Buttigieg on housing

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg released a plan Monday for “Housing Justice in America” with an eye toward curbing homelessness across the country and correcting perceived wrongs that followed the 2008 financial crisis.

Mr. Buttigieg, who is coming off a first-place finish in the Iowa caucuses and a close second place in the New Hampshire primary, wants new consumer protections for American families who have been locked out of homeownership.

His plan includes constructing 2 million rental units to help house 7 million families, increasing consumer protections for mortgage lending, and expanding housing assistance for more than 5 million families with children.

“Housing is more than just having a roof over our heads — it is a place to call our own, a source of dignity and security, and an opportunity to build wealth over generations. Yet too many Americans, especially people of color, have been locked out of homeownership and opportunity,” Mr. Buttigieg said.

“As president, my administration will use housing policy at every level of government as a tool to address the injustices done to reverse the discriminatory impacts of racist redlining, solve homelessness and expand affordable housing nationwide while rebalancing the economy back in favor of American families,” he added.

Warren on small businesses

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Wednesday released a plan aimed at boosting small businesses and entrepreneurs, notably for people of color.

The plan includes an equity fund seeded with $7 billion to provide grants to minority entrepreneurs, and a vow to spread funding in other small business programs across a more diverse set of awardees.

“By and large, being pro big-business means being pro-white male businesses, too. It’s time to change that,” Ms. Warren said on her campaign website.

She also wants to create a new federal grant program for states and localities to try to cut red tape for small business owners and direct more federal money to states to do away with occupational licensing requirements that aren’t tied to health and safety.

“As president, I’ll make sure our government works not just for the big businesses with big money to spend on lobbyists and lawyers, but for entrepreneurs and small business owners with big dreams,” she said.

• Andrew Blake and Alex Swoyer contributed to this report.

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