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Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg calls for legalisation of marijuana

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, visited a legal dispensary in Las Vegas as he campaigns for the Democratic Party’s nomination.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg tours a legal marijuana dispensary in suburban Las Vegas (Michelle L. Price/AP)
Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg tours a legal marijuana dispensary in suburban Las Vegas (Michelle L. Price/AP)

By Michelle L. White, Associated Press

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has said he used marijuana “a handful of times a long time ago”, and that it is time for the US to legalise it.

Mr Buttigieg, speaking to reporters after touring a legal pot dispensary in suburban Las Vegas, was asked about whether he had ever used marijuana.

“I have. A handful of times a long time ago,” he said.

He added that he knows people whose lives have been “shaken” by its criminalisation and the so-called “war on drugs”.

Mr Buttigieg said people still have an image of the marijuana industry and dispensaries that is based on outdated stereotypes.

“When you go into a place like this, it almost reminds you of an Apple store how tidy and carefully it’s laid out, knowledgeable employees and a legitimate business that still struggles because federal policy hasn’t caught up,” he said.

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana walked through the dispensary with the shop’s owners and shook the hands of several employees.

As a pungent, herbal scent hung in the air and three workers nearby bundled and labelled pairs of joints, Mr Buttigieg asked about the testing of products and difficulty of banking.

Nevada, which legalised marijuana in 2017, is among the states that has struggled to find a way to process pot business transactions.

Most banks will not do business with the cash-heavy industry because the drug is still considered illegal by the federal government.

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A cannabis plant (Cathal McNaughton/PA)

“They have to do so much with cash that doesn’t really make sense,” Mr Buttigieg said.

He said the criminalisation of drugs, particularly marijuana, has failed.

He said the US also needs to expunge marijuana convictions, especially because they have disproportionately affected minorities and ruined lives.

The mayor, a military veteran, said he has met a lot of other veterans who rely on cannabis for treating issues connected to their service like post-traumatic stress disorder.

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Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg (Byron Houlgrave/AP)

He said any “legitimate medical use” of cannabis should be covered by health insurance like any other therapy.

Mr Buttigieg did not purchase any products at the shop, joking “I’m on the clock and it’s going to be a long work day for me.”

PA

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