Jim Webb, the former Senator from Virginia, may well be the Democratic 2016 candidate of choice for cannabis and drug war reformers.
Webb’s candidacy is currently little know and seldom mentioned. This may change if Hilary Clinton’s campaign continues to melt down.
Hillary Clinton’s marijuana policy is unclear and certainly uninspiring.
Hopefully, she has learned from the disastrous, zero-tolerance policies of her husband Bill. Former President Clinton, especially when working with Joe Biden, bears responsibility for many of the cruel drug war harms still bedeviling this country. Bill Clinton now claims he sees the errors in his actions (“We put “too many people in prison and for too long”).
But Hillary’s campaign does not call for ending the mandatory minimums, asset forfeitures, guaranteed prosecutions, excessive incarcerations, and police militarization masterminded by husband Bill. From all indications, Hillary’s drug and justice reforms, if any, would be more timid than those of Barack Obama.
Bernie Sanders is another great choice for Democratic presidential candidate.
Senator Sanders now ranks as a good drug war reformer. He supports at least medical marijuana legalization and has commendable views on drug war failure and ending private prisons.
“We have far, far, far too many people in jail for nonviolent crimes, and I think in many ways, the war against drugs has not been successful.”
Unfortunately, his success in gaining the nomination, and later winning the election, may suffer from his age and “Socialist” label. Hopefully, not.
Joe Biden may yet enter the race.
As a president, Biden would be a disaster for cannabis and drug war reform. Workinglockstep with the most conservative, authoritarian Republicans, he was one of the main proponents and creators of the War On Drugs. Biden may well be responsible for his boss’s disappointing timidity in drug war reform; pathetically, nearing the end of the Obama Presidency, cannabis remains a Schedule I drug.
The other Democratic candidates…wait, who are they again?
Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee. At this point, these candidates are even more poorly known than Jim Webb.
Former Maryland governor O’Malley declared himself “not much in favor” of marijuana reform. Echoing prohibitionist prosecutor Chris Christie, he revived the long disproved gateway theory. “This drug, its use and its abuse can be a gateway.”
Democratic voters looking for cannabis law reform will be “not much in favor” of Martin O’Malley.
Former Rhode Island governor Lincoln Chafee is far better, with a quite admirable history of supporting marijuana law reform. As governor he supported medical marijuana and even petitioned the DEA to down schedule cannabis from its draconian Schedule I. Chafee, however, is little known and a longer shot than Jim Webb. He would make a great vice-presidential candidate.
Jim Webb was the best criminal justice reform US Senator of all time.
As freshman Virginia Senator, he introduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act in 2009. He described American criminal incarceration system as “a deeply corrosive crisis that we have largely been ignoring at our peril.” Ultimately his senatorial commission floundered, crushed by Republicans still enamored with the war on drugs. Regarding the American criminal justice system Webb’s words exude wisdom:
With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different–and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter.
Jim’s openness to fresh drug policy choices is clear:
“I think everything should be on the table, and we specifically say that we want recommendations on how to deal with drug policy in our country. I think they should do a very careful examination of all aspects of drug policy.”
The candidate’s views on marijuana reflect his feelings on criminal justice:
“The time has come to stop locking up people for mere possession and use of marijuana.“
The ex-Senator very intelligently compares drug use to cigarette use, noting that the use of this deadly drug, tobacco, has dropped dramatically in the USA without making anything illegal or locking anyone up. He notes, “there have to be similar approaches when it comes to drug use.”
A Vietnam ground combat veteran, Webb is a highly decorated Marine, and recipient of the Navy Cross and two Silver Stars, along with two Purple Heart. He is an accomplished author of ten books, both fiction and non-fiction. He opposed the Iraq war and pushed legislation in 2007 to help prevent an Executive Office attack on Iran. He would make an excellent President, and one cautious of war. If Hillary or Bernie secure the nomination, Jim Webb would be a perfect vice-presidential candidate. In 2008, though, he declined any interest in that office.
If Hillary flames out and Bernie fades, Jim Webb is the logical and electable marijuana reform-minded Democratic voter’s candidate of choice! Jim Webb’16.