Mckayla Wilkes is operating a principal challenge to unseat the second highest ranking Democrat in the U.S. Residence, and aspect of her approach entails contrasting her bold drug policy reform platform with that of Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), who stated not too long ago he believes that consuming marijuana “leads to the use of tougher, pretty dangerous drugs.”
The candidate spoke to Marijuana Moment in a telephone interview about how she has skilled the harms of drug criminalization firsthand, possessing been arrested for cannabis possession in the course of her time in college. It price her jobs and contributed to why her agenda goes beyond legalizing cannabis and also contains expunging previous convictions.
She’s also calling for decriminalizing possession of all drugs to guarantee that addiction is treated as a public wellness, rather than criminal justice, concern.
Evaluate that to Hoyer, who just final week told a constituent that he opposes marijuana legalization primarily based on the broadly disputed gateway drug theory. Even though the incumbent congressman supports healthcare cannabis, he remains out of step with the majority of voters in his celebration at a time when virtually all Democratic presidential candidates are backing broad legalization.
The following interview with Wilkes has been lightly edited for clarity. Meanwhile, Hoyer’s workplace hasn’t responded to Marijuana Moment’s request for an interview.
Marijuana Moment: Can you inform me normally about your drug reform platform?
Mckayla Wilkes: I completely believe that marijuana should really be federally legal. I also believe that we should really have the appropriate to develop our personal plants. I also assistance expunging the records of these who are incarcerated for marijuana and these who have marijuana-connected charges on their records, as properly as investing in communities that the war on drugs has destroyed.
I also assistance the decriminalization of possession of all drugs in addition to marijuana—psychedelics as properly.
MM: You have stressed the will need to couple legalization with expungements. Why do you really feel it is essential?
MW: I believe that expungement is essential, specially if we’re going to speak about federally legalizing marijuana. Simply because if it is in truth legal, there should really be no explanation for it to keep on your record. A lot of the time, it also hinders job acquirement. I also believe that jobs should really not be capable to demand drug tests for marijuana. I just believe that would be fully absurd, and that has to go hand-in-hand with legalizing it on the federal level.
I chose to incorporate expungement into my policy not only since of my experiences with marijuana but also I think marijuana is safer than opioids, specially in my district exactly where the opioid crisis is pretty a lot true. Maryland has the seventh highest price of mortality due to drug overdose, according to the CDC.
WE Ought to:
✔󾃾xpunge the records.
✔️Invest in communities that the War on Drugs has destroyed. https://t.co/iYQHgqa86n
— Mckayla Wilkes for Congress (@MeetMckayla) August 27, 2019
MM: Do you see cannabis as aspect of the option to the opioid crisis as an offramp from drugs like heroin?
MW: Of course, most certainly. That is anything that I’ve believed about. It is anything I think to be accurate as properly.
MM: You have been candid about your expertise facing a marijuana possession arrest. Can you stroll me via what occurred?
MW: I believe I was about 21 or 22 years old. I was coming from a family members member’s property. We had completed smoking. I drove in my car or truck to go house from my cousin’s property a small bit later and I was pulled more than by the police. 1 of my headlights had been out or anything like that. The officer pulled me more than and claimed that he smelled an odor and he asked me if I had something in the car or truck.
Of course I was sincere. I told him that I did in truth have marijuana in the car or truck. He assured me that I wouldn’t be in difficulty as extended as I was sincere, as extended as I showed him exactly where it was. I showed exactly where it was and gave it to him and I explained that I had class the subsequent morning since I was a college student. He told me to get out of the car or truck, he searched me, he asked if that is all I had. I was sincere with him like he asked me to be and he arrested me, place in my handcuffs and told me I was becoming detained for possession of marijuana.
I am not a common candidate. I was seriously nervous to speak about my criminal record, specially so early in the campaign. But I want to be sincere about who I am and use my experiences to fight for an finish to the criminalization of poverty nationwide. #Mckayla2020 #AVoteForUs pic.twitter.com/onP9W9eqjF
— Mckayla Wilkes for Congress (@MeetMckayla) May 3, 2019
MM: How did that make you really feel?
MW: I produced me really feel like I was a criminal and that was one particular of the 1st situations that I had with a police officer that produced me not trust the police since right here I am, clearly I’m not a terrible particular person, I’m telling him I have class tomorrow and even showed him my books.
He didn’t care about any of that and I ended up becoming detained for about 12 to 13 hours in a cell with about 12 to 15 other girls. Some of us had been on the floor. There was one particular toilet inside of the cell, exactly where if you had to use the bathroom, you had to use the bathroom in front of everybody else. That is fairly a lot what they did to me. I went to court for it. They didn’t convict me of it. They place the case on what’s referred to as a Stet docket on the situation that I completed a drug rehabilitation plan for people today who did drugs.
I felt fully out of spot since to me it is not a drug, it is organic.
Have I been arrested for marijuana possession? Yes.
Am I ashamed of that? No.
I am tired of privileged politicians admitting they smoked & faced no consequences, then turning about and explaining why they believe it should really nevertheless be illegal.
Finish THE PROHIBITION.#PERIODT
— Mckayla Wilkes for Congress (@MeetMckayla) August 28, 2019
It was just absurd to me, and it is anything I nevertheless have to answer for to this day. I’m a government contractor so if I go to a new job and I have a safety clearance to make, they constantly ask me about this. It is a further explanation I assistance the expungement of records since of situations like that. I’ve been turned down for jobs for this explanation, which shouldn’t be the case.
MM: When you speak to voters about your drug policy proposals, what type of reaction do you get?
MW: I get a lot of good feedback, even from people today who have by no means smoked marijuana a day in their life. Persons are agreeing, like why is this illegal?
I haven’t met one particular particular person who does not assistance legalizing marijuana—besides Steny Hoyer. To me, it is no surprise. I imply he requires a lot of funds from Significant Pharma and you believe about the effect that the legalization of marijuana will have on the opiate business and the pharmaceutical business, of course he’s not going to assistance that.
If you appear at all of the items that marijuana does, it is extraordinary. There’s proof of it treating nausea, anxiousness, depression—so lots of other items. I myself endure from insomnia and can not seriously sleep and I would a lot rather smoke a joint to go to sleep than to take any type of medication. I have a lot of mates that have died from prescription drug abuse. It is anything that requires to be taken seriously. It shouldn’t be taken lightly.
And really frankly, I’m disappointed in the majority leader for calling it a gateway drug, which is an absolute lie.
MM: How a lot do you believe Hoyer’s opposition to legalization will effect his campaign?
MW: I believe it is going to effect his campaign really negatively. I was basically shocked that he was bold sufficient to basically say that, but that just goes to show how secure he feels. He’s bold in the truth that he feels safe that his seat is secure, that he will not be in jeopardy of losing it, that he will not be in jeopardy of becoming primaried.
[Legalization is] anything that even people today who assistance Hoyer would see and appear at him differently. There’s so lots of people today who agree with the federal legalization of marijuana. If you appear at the war on drugs and you appear at how lots of people today are incarcerated for this—people are nevertheless incarcerated for the possession of marijuana though it is becoming spoken about becoming legalized. That is a substantial concern. Why are we nevertheless on the incorrect history when it comes to this?
MM: Any thoughts on former Vice President Joe Biden and the part his opposition to broad reform will play out in the Democratic presidential principal?
MW: Oh, Joe. I do not know if Joe Biden is purposefully attempting to throw out the race or he basically believes in the crap that he says. From time to time I have to believe to myself, “wow did he seriously say that? Did he imply that?”
That is fairly a lot my stance on Joe Biden. It is Joe becoming Joe. I do not assistance him, I’m Bernie all the way.
MM: Speaking of Sanders, what do you make of him not too long ago stating that he’s not but prepared to embrace decriminalizing possession of all drugs, as you are advocating for?
MW: I’m not seriously positive exactly where Bernie Sanders is coming from with that. I will say that is one particular issue that is disappointing, but I’m hoping he will lean much more left on that concern.
I believe it is essential to decriminalize possession of all drugs since we have to appear at substance abuse aside from marijuana. When you see people today come into the criminal justice method and you see that they have many offenses of drug possession, no matter if it be heroin or prescription drugs or crack cocaine or PCP, prison is not going to rehabilitate them. These are situations exactly where people today will need assistance. You can lock somebody up who is addicted to cocaine, you can place him in jail for 5 years, but if they do not get the remedy they will need, they’re going to go get higher once more.
A lot of time that causes overdose as properly since you spent this entire time not undertaking what you typically do and you get out and just want to chase that higher. It goes to the truth that we will need rehabilitation versus exploiting these people today who have these problems, and that is why the decriminalization of all drugs has to come into legislation and requires to be enacted since it is going to assistance our communities and assistance people today. We have to tackle that as properly.
Fingers crossed that Bernie will see the light on that concern.
MM: You pointed out psychedelics earlier. Is that a further concern you are exploring?
MW: It is anything I’m interested in. I’m nevertheless undertaking a small bit of analysis. I have talked to a handful of people today about how it is verified to assistance people today who endure from PTSD and it is anything that I believe we should really invest in researching. I believe that administered beneath the appropriate care with the appropriate dosage could be valuable versus just shoving prescription tablets down our throats just about every likelihood they get.
Major Residence Democrat Peddles Gateway Theory To Justify Marijuana Legalization Opposition