DNC Chair Candidate Keith Ellison: “Crazy” to Jail Folks for Marijuana

Keith Ellison

The Democratic Party is doing some serious soul searching after Donald Trump shocked the political world by upsetting Hillary Clinton (in the Electoral College) and Democrats didn’t win as many congressional races as expected. Ground zero for the fight for the very soul of the party is currently the election of the next chair of the Democratic National Committee. The current frontrunner for DNC chair, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, looks to be a huge improvement for the cannabis community over the previous full-time chair, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

From The Ring of Fire Network:

Ellison, who is being supported by many progressive Democrats, showed his progressive colors when he spoke about marijuana legalization and criminal justice reform.

“I don’t recommend folks smoke marijuana, but I’ll tell you this: It is crazy to throw people in jail for it. Why fill up the jails for something like that? I’m running for DNC chair because it is time to turn all this around.”

Though a seemingly surface issue, marijuana legalization and decriminalization is a major one in the fight for criminal justice reform. Millions of low-level drug offenders are forced to serve years in prison – ruining their lives and the lives of their families – for something as simple as possession of a mild drug.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign following the leak of emails showing DNC staffers clearly siding with Hillary Clinton over her primary rival Bernie Sanders. Schultz opposed cannabis legalization and Florida’s medical marijuana measure, not only putting herself at odds with a super majority of the Democratic Party, but also a majority of all American voters.

Marijuana Majority’s Tom Angell discussed the opportunity to gain more voter support with The Ring of Fire Network:

“Polling now clearly shows that a growing majority of voters support legalizing marijuana, and that’s particularly true of younger demographics that politicians increasingly see the importance of mobilizing on Election Day. The truth is, this enormously popular issue is still very much up for grabs by whatever political parties or candidates want to fully get out in front of it.”

Many cannabis law reformers flocked to the primary campaign of  Bernie Sanders after the Vermont Senator announced his support for legalization, introducing legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition. While there are many reasons that young voters overwhelmingly favored Senator Sanders, but his support for legalization certainly didn’t hurt. Sanders has endorsed Ellison for DNC chair, as has Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, another progressive icon with a sensible approach to cannabis laws.

Democrats will be debating what went wrong in 2016 for years to come, but they should immediately address the enthusiasm gap that existed between Clinton’s base of voters compared to Trump’s. Electing Keith Ellison, who supports cannabis legalization and greater criminal justice reform, as the next DNC chair, will help energize the base of the Democratic Party, especially millennials, and will put the party at the forefront of an important issue that is now in the mainstream of modern society.

Anthony Johnson
About Anthony Johnson 128 Articles

Anthony Johnson, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, is the director of New Approach Oregon, working to effectively implement the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature, before regulatory bodies,and at city councils and county commissions across the state.

He was proud to work as Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon’s cannabis legalization effort and director of the Vote Yes on 91 PAC, the political action committees responsible for the state’s legalization campaign. He also advises cannabis entrepreneurs on how to comply with Oregon’s laws and helps organize the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference. Anthony’s blogs on are personal in nature and don’t speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization. You can see his work here at WeedNews.co as well as MarijuanaPolitics.com.