On Friday, businessman and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang gave a speech in Concord, New Hampshire. During the speech, Yang stated that if elected president, he would "pardon everyone who is in jail for nonviolent marijuana-related offenses."
Fox News reports that Yang also said: "Americans now recognize just how broken our mass incarceration system is and how much progress we need to make."
On Yang's official website, he makes his policy ideas on the legalization of marijuana abundantly clear:
Marijuana is still considered a controlled substance by federal law. Thousands are in jail for marijuana-related offenses, particularly people of color. Yet marijuana is now legal for adult use in 11 states and the District of Columbia, and 33 states have legalized medical marijuana in some form.
We need to resolve the ambiguity and legalize marijuana at the federal level. This would improve safety, social equity, and generate tens of billions of dollars in new revenue based on legal cannabis businesses.
His website further states:
As president, I will ... Support the full legalization of marijuana at the federal level and remove it from the controlled substances list ... Expunge the federal convictions of all marijuana-related use or possession offenses ... Identify non-violent drug offenders for probation and potential early release.
Friday isn't the first time Yang has spoken about such a proposal. In April, he stated at the National Action Network (NAN) conference that he plans to legalize marijuana, issue a pardon on April 20, 2021 to those in jail for nonviolent drug-based offenses (4/20 being a reference to weed culture), and give the newly freed individuals a "high-five ... on the way out of jail."
While Andrew Yang has been struggling to connect with a larger audience, currently sitting at just 1.5% according to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, he has an enthusiastic cult following. He was also the ninth candidate to qualify for the next set of Democratic debates in September by reaching the 130,000 unique donor requirement, as well as reaching "2% or more [support] in at least four separate polls released between June 28 and August 28 and conducted by approved pollsters," according to CNN.
Since the legalization of sales of recreational marijuana in Colorado, which began in 2014, the taxes and fees collected by the state have risen each year. As of July 2019, the state has collected approximately $1.069 billion in taxes and fees on the sale and distribution of marijuana.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative (PPI), "451,000 [people] are incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses on any given day," approximately 198,000 of whom are in state prisons, 81,000 under the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and 118,000 not convicted in local jails.
The organization notes that in total, there are "2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 109 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S."
The Daily Wire reached out to Yang’s team for further comment regarding his position on drug legalization and low-level drug offenders, but as of publication, we have not received a reply.