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Pritzker touts marijuana legalization on 4/20 while campaigning for Biden in Grand Rapids


Pritzker touts marijuana legalization on 4/20 while campaigning for Biden in Grand Rapids

Apr 21, 2024 | 6:01 am ET
By Andrew Roth
Pritzker touts marijuana legalization on 4/20 while campaigning for Biden in Grand Rapids
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks at an organizing event in Grand Rapids for President Joe Biden's re-election campaign on April 20, 2024. (Photo by Andrew Roth/Michigan Advance)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker highlighted the marijuana industry while campaigning for President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign in Grand Rapids on Saturday.

“I wanted to come up here on 4/20, because we, too, legalized cannabis in the state of Illinois, and I know that’s been a boon to not only state revenues but also to business and job creation in the state of Michigan,” said Pritzker, a Democrat.

In a post on X, Pritzker quipped, “To be blunt: we’re proud to have sparked a new industry when we legalized adult-use cannabis.”

Pritzker, who was joined by state Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), said the legalization of recreational marijuana is just one of several Democratic accomplishments in Michigan since 2018.

“You all have turned a state that was — let’s face it, a red state — into a purple state, and now a blue state,” Pritzker said. “There are so many other states in the country that should be following Michigan’s lead.”

But that took work, Pritzker said, encouraging people to sign up as volunteers and go knock doors for the campaign.

“It’s like the eighth grade dance, for me, anyway. Sometimes you have to knock on three or four doors before you get somebody you can really talk to,” Pritzker said. “Because you’re willing to do that, you’re going to have somebody to dance with. You’re going to bring them to the dance.”

Biden, who spent much of last week barnstorming Pennsylvania, will also be putting in the work to defend the “blue wall,” Pritzker said, referring to Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Those states voted for Trump in 2016 but flipped to Biden in 2020.

“Democrats need to win the blue wall states. It’s vitally important, and Joe Biden knows it,” Pritzker said. “One of the reasons we’re having the Democratic National Convention here in the Midwest is because he recognizes how important this is.”


“Michigan sits in the middle. If we don’t win Michigan, we can’t win the presidency. And if we don’t win Michigan, this country is going to go backwards,” Pritzker said.

Pritzker leads a strong fundraising coalition in his campaign to land the convention, which is being held in Chicago from Aug. 19 through Aug. 22.

Pritzker, a potential future presidential candidate, is a billionaire who previously donated to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s reelection campaign in 2022. Whitmer is also considered a top White House hopeful.

Pritzker praised Whitmer as “one of the nation’s greatest governors” Saturday, but joked that “it seems like she has it easy because there is so much love and affection for her … and sometimes I feel like I have to fight for every bit.”

While independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy gained ballot access in Michigan this week, Pritzker said he is not overly concerned about the possibility that he will act as a spoiler candidate for Biden.

“There’s only one candidate on the ballot who can win and beat Donald Trump, and that’s Joe Biden,” Pritzker said. “I don’t think having ballot access for Robert Kennedy is going to change the fact that people are going to go into the voting booths and know that they’re throwing away their vote if they vote Robert Kennedy, and that if they vote for Joe Biden they’re assuring that we’re not going to have Donald Trump as president.”

Still, Pritzker noted some voters’ concern that both major party nominees are the two oldest presidential candidates in American history.

“People sometimes say Joe Biden’s old. But Donald Trump has proven that you can be old and not learn anything,” Pritzker said. “You can be old without having learned, throughout the course of your life, empathy for people across the United States. And that is Joe Biden; he wears empathy on his sleeve.”