A former Republican congressman announced on August 25, 2019 that he’s mounting a primary challenge against President Donald Trump, and he’s fully on board with legalizing marijuana.

Joe Walsh, who represented Illinois in the U.S. House from 2011 to 2013, has repeatedly condemned cannabis prohibition. His social media feeds contain multiple comments supporting reform, signaling that the issue could be prominently featured in his campaign. Here’s a comprehensive look at where Walsh stands on marijuana.

Legislation And Policy Actions

While Walsh didn’t proactively sponsor or cosponsor cannabis legislation during his one term in Congress, he did vote in favor of a 2012 floor amendment to protect states with medical cannabis programs from federal intervention. He was one of just 28 Republicans to support the measure.

Quotes And Social Media Posts

There are two platforms through which Walsh has made abundantly clear that he supports marijuana reform: social media and his radio show.

On Twitter and Facebook, the candidate has repeatedly called for legalization and criticized prohibition enforcement, often taking a civil liberties perspective and comparing laws governing alcohol and cannabis.

“It’s time. Legalize marijuana,” he wrote in October 2018. “If a 21yr old can drink whiskey, he should be able to smoke a joint.”

“Marijuana should be legalized in every state,” he said. “If you can drink a beer at 21, you should be able to smoke weed at 21.”

In other posts, he’s described his position more frankly.

“It’s time, legalize marijuana,” he said simply in a Facebook post in October 2018.

“Good God. Just legalize Marijuana now,” he wrote in June 2017. “For any adult. For any reason.”

Walsh has also routinely weighed in on specific cannabis legislation and policy decisions, including when his home state of Illinois legalized marijuana for adult use in June 2019.

“Yes, Illinois is a bankrupt disaster, but they did one thing right yesterday: Illinois became the 11th state to legalize marijuana,” he wrote. “Good. If you can legally have a shot of whiskey at 21, you should be able to legally smoke a joint at 21.”

He made similar marks after the legalization legislation advanced out of the state House.

“The Illinois House votes to legalize marijuana. The Governor will sign it into law,” he said. “Good. Damn good. If you can legally drink whiskey at 21, you should be able to legally smoke a joint at 21.”

However, he cast doubts on Illinois’s ability to generate revenue from legal marijuana sales during a radio show in June 2019.

“Marijuana. Legalization. I think it’s a good thing, but I think it’s all about the money and I don’t trust Illinois at all when it comes to the money,” he said. “And if you think this is going to generate great revenues for the state of Illinois, let me tell you, like the lottery and everything else, Illinois will figure out a way to screw this up as well.”

The candidate tweeted about Maine’s successful legalization initiative in November 2016, writing “Maine becomes the 4th state to legalize recreational Marijuana. Good. Keep this movement growing.”

On the federal level, Walsh voiced support for a bipartisan bill that would allow states to set their own cannabis policies without federal interference, writing that there are “bigger issues for our federal government to focus on than marijuana” and following up to clarify that the bill “this is a good move.”

“The focus of the federal government on attacking marijuana and marijuana users is ridiculous,” he said. “It’s time to legalize it.”

“If it were up to me, I’d legalize Marijuana tomorrow,” he added.

Walsh also endorsed a tweet from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), a Democratic presidential candidate, which applauded Seattle’s decision to vacate past marijuana convictions.

“I never thought I’d have something positive to say about a @BernieSanders tweet, but this is a good thing,” he said. “It’s way past time to legalize marijuana.”

While many Democratic presidential candidates have centered their arguments in favor of legalization with a racial justice focus, Walsh doesn’t appear to have discussed the racial disparities in enforcement as a reason for his support for ending prohibition. He has also acknowledged saying “racist things” about people of color.

The former congressman has not shied away from criticizing fellow Republicans about their opposition to cannabis reform.

When former Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidance that laid out marijuana enforcement priorities for federal prosecutors, Walsh was quick to condemn the move.

“Hey Jeff Sessions, leave weed alone,” he wrote. “Marijuana should be legalized. Let it happen.”

“Come on Jeff Sessions. Leave marijuana alone. Leave it up to the states,” he also said. “If booze is legal, weed should be legal.”

In a lengthier tweet, he wrote: “Dear Jeff Sessions: There are greater issues facing America than marijuana. If the states have decided to legalize it for medical or recreational use, that’s their right. Instead, focus on the illegals committing crimes & killing Americans in sanctuary cities & sanctuary states.”

Walsh called out Trump’s White House after then-Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Sessions’s decision to rescind the so-called Cole memo.

“During the campaign, @realDonaldTrump said ‘you should leave it up to the states,’ with regard to marijuana,” he wrote. “Today, the [White House] said he supports Jeff Sessions’ decision to roll back an Obama-era policy to not challenge state laws that allow people to use pot.”

On at least two occasions, Walsh has used marijuana puns, joking that anti-legalization Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) prefers the “use of the term Grass-ley” and playing off a USA Today headline that talked about a “marijuana tidal wave” by commenting, “High tide?”

Walsh also gave a hat tip to Canada for legalizing marijuana, writing “Canada and the UK have now both legalized marijuana” and that it “should be legal here.” (Certain cannabis preparations are legal only for certain medical purposes in the UK and marijuana is legal for adult recreational use in Canada.)

Personal Experience With Marijuana

In April 2014, Walsh said that he smoked marijuana “a long, long, long time ago.”

“I’ve had marijuana in my system and sometimes rap music plays on B96. So it doesn’t matter,” he wrote months later, offering no context on the link between his cannabis consumption and the genre of music that occasionally plays on the Chicago radio station.

 

Marijuana Under A Walsh Presidency

Walsh said it plainly in June 2018: if he were in a position to make the decision, he’d immediately legalize marijuana. He’s condemned efforts to maintain the status quo of prohibition and celebrated cannabis legislation and pro-reform statements from Democratic lawmakers. He’s also criticized federal efforts to interfere with state laws. In other words, there’s ample reason to believe that the former congressman would be an advocate for legalization if elected president, though he hasn’t weighed in specifically on what post-prohibition policy should look like and whether it should include provisions to encourage communities harmed by past drug war enforcement to participate in the legal industry.

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The post Where Presidential Candidate Joe Walsh Stands On Marijuana appeared first on Marijuana Moment.