Later in the week, O’Malley will travel to Denver for what is being advertised as a “marijuana legalization listening session.” Aides say the Democratic hopeful will hear from policy makers, business owners and law enforcement on Thursday about how Colorado’s decision to legalize marijuana has been working.
“He has shown that he has an open mind when it comes to sensible drug policies,” said O’Malley spokeswoman Haley Morris.
If O’Malley were to embrace legalization, it would mark a departure from where he stood as governor. When Maryland lawmakers took up the issue last year, during O’Malley’s final legislation session, he told a radio interviewer “I’m not much in favor of it” and expressed concerns that recreational pot use could be “a gateway to even more harmful behavior.”
O’Malley signed legislation passed later that session by the heavily Democratic legislature that took the more modest step of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. On the campaign trail now, O’Malley regularly cites that legislation as one of his accomplishments.
O’Malley’s record on gun control is more firmly rooted in his gubernatorial tenure. In 2013, in the wake of the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., he championed a sweeping gun-control bill that banned 45 types of assault rifles and required new fingerprinting requirements for handgun purchases.
As a presidential candidate, O’Malley has pledged to take similar actions on a national level. In June, following the massacre at a Charleston, S.C., church, he sent an e-mail to supporters saying he was “pissed” by congressional inaction on gun control and asking them to stand with him in an effort to toughen the laws.
The proposals O’Malley will release Monday are his most detailed to date. Among other measures, he would ban the sale and distribution of all “military-style assault weapons,” establish a national firearms registry and make it easier for the federal government to revoke the licenses of gun dealers.
“Week after week, more images of horrific gun violence flash across our TV and computer screens,” O’Malley says in a position paper outlining his plans. “We cannot afford to sit by and let this constant heartbreak become the norm.”