White House hopeful Mike Bloomberg has announced plans to decriminalize marijuana nationwide if he wins the presidential election in November.

Bloomberg is now the second favorite to secure the Democrat candidacy, despite entering the race a year later than his rivals. He has invested heavily in nationwide advertising and his popularity ratings have soared, making him a serious contender to run against President Donald Trump later this year.

Today the former New York mayor and media mogul expanded his criminal justice reform plan with “bold initiatives” to end the era of mass incarceration. He pledged to commit $22.5 billion to reducing the prison population in half by 2030, and marijuana decriminalization emerged as one of the key pillars of his strategy.

The plan laid out today would decriminalize possession and use of marijuana nationwide, commute any existing sentences and expunge any records.

However, he did not pledge to legalize cannabis at a federal level. All of his rivals apart from Joe Biden have promised to do precisely that.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders remains the frontrunner to secure the nominee for president in this year’s election after winning the popular vote in Iowa and New Hampshire. He is a progressive and self-described democratic socialist, which might not sit well with various factions in the Democrat Party, but he is popular among voters.

Sanders has pledged to legalize marijuana at a federal level on day one of his presidency if he is successful. He would bypass Congress and nominate an attorney general, HHS secretary and DEA administrator to “work aggressively” on legalization and expungements.

Biden hit headlines in November by referring to marijuana as a “gateway drug” and saying he would oppose legalization. The swift backlash forced him to retract that statement, and an interview earlier this month suggested he would now back legalization.

Yet Biden struggled in both Iowa and New Hampshire, and he is now considered an outsider in the race to win the nomination. The sportsbooks have Sanders as the +125 favorite, with Bloomberg at +200, Pete Buttigieg at +800, and Biden at +800, while Elizabeth Warren has faded and Amy Klonuchar is a serious underdog.

Bloomberg is worth more than $60 billion and he has thrown huge sums of money at his election campaign. Commentators suggest that his billions are burying Biden, and he has emerged as the main moderate candidate to take on the progressive Sanders.

He once said that Colorado’s decision to legalize recreational marijuana use was “a terrible idea”.

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