Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii’s democratic congresswoman and one of many entrants in the crowded 2020 presidential race, is already turning heads thanks to her anti-interventionist foreign policy approach and progressive stance on a variety of issues, making her an outlier among establishment Democrats.
If her pre-campaign messaging and campaign launch speech are any indicator, the potential presidential contender has no intention of backing down – especially when it comes to her strong advocacy of medical marijuana and harsh criticisms of the criminal justice system and pharmaceutical industry.
Declaring her formal entrance into the Democratic Party presidential primaries, Gabbard issued a rousing call to end the for-profit prison industry, which has seen private corrections corporations rake in profits while shirking prisoners’ and immigrant detainees’ food, health care, and other essential services while exploiting incarcerated people as essentially slave labor.
“We must stand up against private prisons, who are profiting off the backs of those caught up in a broken criminal justice system,” Gabbard said.
Continuing, she added that “a system that puts people in prison for smoking marijuana while allowing corporations like Purdue Pharma, who are responsible for the opioid-related deaths of thousands of people, to walk away scot-free with their coffers full.”
Purdue Pharma, the company responsible for making the OxyContin narcotic pill, was recently exposed in court filings by the Massachusetts attorney general to have deliberately conspired to mislead doctors and patients about the dangerous and addictive nature of the opioid in hopes of maximizing company profits.
“This so-called criminal justice system, which favors the rich and powerful and punishes the poor, cannot stand.”
Gabbard, an Iraq war veteran and member of Congress since 2013 who previously served as a state legislator in Hawaii and city councilmember in Honolulu, has long been a supporter of progressive cannabis laws and opponent of federal prohibition laws.
Last year, pro-legalization political advocacy committee National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML PAC) hailed Gabbard as a leader in the fight for criminal justice reform and the decriminalization of marijuana on a federal level.,,,