Candidates are already gearing up for the 2024 election. People will be judging presidential hopefuls based on foreign and economic policies, their stance on healthcare, and so much more. But stoners will be focused on their activities regarding legalizing marijuana and psychedelics.
Democratic candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. says he will be legalizing marijuana and psychedelics if he is elected to the White House. He says he will tax both products and use the income to set up “healing centers” that offer addiction recovery centers. He also says he will approve banking reform to make it easier for cannabis companies to do business.
RFK’s Policy on Legalizing Marijuana and Psychedelics
RFK has been vague on his drug reform policy since entering the presidential race. But he made his stance clear at a town hall event last week stating that he will take progressive action that goes well beyond the legalizing marijuana and cannabis policies President Joe Biden supports.
Kennedy spoke about his struggles with addiction during the event and the lessons he has learned after years of recovery. He says he is not one to promote a drug to overcome addiction, but he has seen his family benefit from psychedelics and their ability to reduce the use of more serious substances.
“I would legalize psychedelic drugs- some form of legalization,” he said at the conference. He followed up saying that he does not envision a market where anyone could shop and buy psychedelics, but he feels there should be regulated access.
He also mentioned activities that go beyond legalizing marijuana and psychedelics.
“I’m going to decriminalize marijuana on a federal basis, allow the states to regulate it, continue to tax it federally, and use those taxes to fund the recovery programs. And I would do the same thing for psychedelic drugs, which I do not think should be criminalized,” he said.
His cannabis and psychedelic tax-funded recovery program is inspired by San Patrignano, an Italian treatment center that treats clients with an alternative approach by involving them in activities like gardening and animal therapy.
“That’s what we need to build here. What I would do as president is, I would decriminalize marijuana. I will make safe banking laws for people who are selling it, I will tax it federally and I will use that money to build healing centers in rural areas- depressed rural areas- all over the country, where kids can grow organic food and eat well and heal themselves spiritually, physically, and emotionally,” he said.
When speaking about “safe banking laws” Kennedy seems to be talking about the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act which is being considered by Congress. It would protect financial institutions from being penalized for working with cannabis businesses. However, Kennedy’s proposal to tax marijuana sales on a federal level would require more than reform.
Kennedy’s Stance on Drug Addiction Treatment
Kennedy went on to discuss how legalizing marijuana and psychedelics would make drug addiction treatment in America more effective. He criticized the current system saying, “I have a very good idea of what works and a vision for what we need to do in this country- and we need to make addiction treatment easy, simple, cheap. A lot of the (drug treatment) industry has devolved, because of a variety of factors, into almost a predatory industry.”
He mentioned that he reviewed studies on psychedelics and found, “There’s so many people being helped in different ways by them, and we have to make it easier- maybe to prescribe them or give them through therapeutically.
“I don’t know about just buying them in stores. I have to look at all that. But in one way or another, we need to make it easy for people to use them in ways that could benefit our children and could benefit everybody. I’ve seen it in my own family, the benefits of it.”
Kennedy also discussed the benefits of psychedelics for mental health saying he’s “seen miraculous recoveries from psychedelic drugs from PTSD from veterans who have used it, from people who have suffered severe depression, OCD and many other injuries.”
“I’m not saying blanket legalization, but we need to make it easy for psychiatrists and therapists who are trained to be able to use this on their patients (as) an experiment and see if we get good results,” he suggested.
Criticism of Current Policy
Kennedy reflected on current policies on legalizing marijuana and psychedelics. He called the current conflict between state and federal governments “absurd”.
He feels his stance on drugs will be a differentiator in terms of voters who want to elect him over Biden. However, Biden’s younger brother spoke on the radio the same day as Kennedy’s conference stating that the president is “very open-minded” about using psychedelics to treat addiction.
Secretary Xavier Becerra was previously asked about the Biden administration’s psychedelics policy and said he would “defer” to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) which had been actively seeking funding opportunities to research science and laws regarding psychedelics.
Kennedy also took some time at the conference to address Biden’s son and his struggles with addiction. He called addiction “a tragedy, and it’s cunning, it’s incomprehensible, it’s baffling, and it’s really difficult to deal with. I wish him and his family the best.”
He also spoke out against Republican candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who is opposed to legalizing marijuana and psychedelics.
While Kennedy, who is the son of former Attorney General Robert Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, may gain the Democratic vote due to his policy on legalizing marijuana and psychedelics, he faces opposition due to his anti-vax opinions.
He gains the support of Rep. Joe Kennedy III who opposed legalizing marijuana and psychedelics during his time in Congress but says he has since changed his mind and supports researching psychedelics’ therapeutic effects.