Every prominent candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination who is not named Joe Biden is on record supporting marijuana legalization.
This broad cannabis consensus is a sharp swing from 2016, when the two major candidates — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who took a Biden-like, centrist approach; and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who emphatically endorsed legalization, and who enjoyed broad “grassroots” support — had a clear ideological difference on the matter. This time around, only Biden stands out for not backing nationwide legalization.
But who among the 2020 presidential candidates actually uses cannabis? Some have admitted to uses cannabis in the past, but what about now?
Who incorporates cannabis into their campaign routines, which might be able to bring on sleep on an overnight flight, relieve some aches and pains from being stuffed on tour buses, or help process and cope after trying to absorb the latest indignity from the Trump White House?
Nobody has admitted to it — not cool Beto O’Rourke, not the millennial’s Mayor Pete Buttigieg (who as a former military officer living in Indiana, a very illegal state, is probably least likely). Not even California Sen. Kamala Harris, a career prosecutor, who copped to smoking pot during college at Howard University in the mid-1980s — before she decided to embark on a career enforcing laws that would have seen people like her lose their college scholarships and housing. (How she reconciles these contradictions, only she can say.) However, during the Democratic debates on Oct. 15, Bernie Sanders came closest to admitting that he uses cannabis, responding to praise from fellow legalization-backer Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) with the quip that he wasn’t “on medical marijuana tonight.”
At the #DemocraticDebate, Cory Booker interjects during discussion of candidates’ health that Bernie Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana; Sanders quips, “But I’m not on it tonight!” pic.twitter.com/PLawmqLsP3— The Anslinger (@TheAnslinger) October 16, 2019
So does Bernie Sanders use medical marijuana on other nights, or other days? Briahna Joy Gray, Sanders’s national press secretary, did not immediately respond to a request for comment sent via Twitter. So, for now, the answer is — maybe! And why not!
Sanders, 78, represents Vermont, where both medical and recreational cannabis are fully legal. Being two years removed from octogenarian status, Sanders is also a member of a generation that knew all about smoking weed before it was cool, way back in the 1960s and is quickly learning how cannabis can benefit aging humans keen to delay mental infirmities and to achieve relief from the ravages of aging on the body.
Sanders is also recovering from a heart attack suffered earlier this month while out on the campaign trail.
Among the effects on the body from cannabis smoking is an increased heart rate and dilated blood vessels. (These are what led some users to freak out, man!) According to Harvard University Medical School’s useful page on the subject, studies do show that cannabis smoking “may increase the long-term death rate among heart attack survivors” and that the “risk of heart attack is several times higher in the hour after smoking marijuana that it would be normally.”
However, there are many more ways of consuming cannabis than puffing on a fat spliff or dabbing high-octane extracts. Microdosing edibles. Sublingual tinctures with a mixture of CBD and THC. Lotions or creams. These are all medical marijuana products, none of which Sanders admitted to being on, on Tuesday. But what about other days!
If Sanders does use cannabis, he’s not so unique: About one in seven Americans admit to using cannabis regularly. And though Sanders is a little bit older than most baby boomers, among members of that generation, cannabis use has increased tenfold over the past decade. Sanders could absolutely benefit from using cannabis, just as much as Biden could.
TELL US, do you think Bernie Sanders smokes weed?