The first 2020 candidate to tour a cannabis facility took place, perhaps predictably, in Las Vegas.
Marianne Williamson, a Democratic presidential candidate and spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey, Tuesday toured the grow house of Premium Produce with CEO and president Priscilla Vilchis, the first and only Latina in Nevada to be granted licenses to grow and distribute marijuana in the state.
With no prior political experience, the best-selling author and lecturer is an unconventional candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination.
Still, after rubbing shoulders with the likes of Oprah Winfrey and other high profile celebrities, Williamson has built a core group of supporters and has met both of the Democratic National Committee’s criteria to qualify for the first primary debate: polling and fundraising.
Using the backdrop of the marijuana growing facility, Williamson criticized what she believes to be systemic failures to address economic inequality and criminal justice reform across the country. She emphasized the disproportionate number of minorities being held in jail due to marijuana-related convictions, calling for amnesty for all nonviolent drug offenders and the immediate federal legalization of cannabis.
“We all need to be savvy about the various ethnic, cultural, socio economic issues that are sort of baked into the cake at the beginning,” of an industries growth, Williamson said.
In contrast, Williamson pointed to Premium Produce—which won a marijuana license from the state when Vilchis was just 27 years old—as an example of empowering underrepresented communities who have historically been left out of the prosperity produced by new industries.
“Who is going to be allowed in this industry. Is it or is not going to be a continuation of a corporate dominated system that in fact is known for not letting in as many minority communities,” Williamson said. “Or is it truly going to be a free market enterprise.”
Williamson went on to call the current system of government a “veiled aristocracy” focused on helping corporations hoard profit at the expense of underrepresented minorities and the poor.
“Our government functions at the interest of short-term corporate profits more than as an advocate for we the people,” Williamson said.
After the tour, Williamson promoted a presidential platform built off progressive polices including: universal health care, student loan forgiveness, free college tuition, a $15 minimum wage, justice reform, and children’s advocacy—describing herself as a “people first” candidate.
“As president, my concern is always first, people who have been wronged and people who need help. That’s where we go first,” Williamson said.
A major part of of Williamson’s platform focuses on children’s advocacy including a pledge to create “a cabinet level Department of Childhood and Youth,” to focus on “chronic trauma” experienced by American children due to systematic failures. Williamson echoed those sentiments on Tuesday, saying that her “first concern is the suffering of children.”
“I want a massive realignment of investment in the direction of children 10 years old and younger,” Williamson said, advocating for the distribution of tax revenue from cannabis and elsewhere to children’s services.
“We take better care of the marijuana plants in this facility than we take care of thousands and thousands of children in Nevada. And we take better care of the marijuana plants because there is corporate money to be made,” Williamson said.