Beto O'Rourke expresses support for nationwide legalization of marijuana


Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas) on Monday expressed support for the federal legalization of marijuana as he mulls a potential presidential bid in 2020.

CNN reported that O'Rourke sent an email to supporters in which he backed the repeal of the federal criminalization of marijuana and called for the records of those jailed over marijuana possession to be expunged.

O'Rourke pitched the overhaul of federal marijuana laws as part of a broader array of criminal justice reform proposals, CNN reported. Others included allowing convicted criminals to apply for loans, and banning the box on job application forms that requires job applicants to disclose their criminal history.

"Giving low-level offenders a second chance no matter the color of their skin or the economic status they hold can create opportunity for all of us," O'Rourke said in the email. "It will help build a future that is more just, more fair, and more prosperous for every single person in this state and this country."

CNN reported that O'Rourke has backed marijuana legalization dating back to his time on the El Paso City Council.

O'Rourke, who lost his bid to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in November, is said to be close to announcing whether he'll run for president in 2020.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who is running for president, introduced a bill last week that would legalize marijuana across the country.

The bill, known as the Marijuana Justice Act, would remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances, where it is a Schedule I drug in the same class as heroin and LSD. It also would expunge previous marijuana-related federal convictions.

Ten states as well as Washington, D.C., have already legalized the recreational use of marijuana, with several other states legalizing its medicinal use.

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