Most people know Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders’s stance of legalizing recreational marijuana by now. He also endorsed changing outdated drug laws last time he ran for the presidency beginning in 2015. Sanders wants to end federal criminalization of marijuana possession and recreational use of the drug. More than that, he would like to reschedule the drug to be considered much less dangerous than, say, heroin — because the current scheduling makes no sense and is based on debunked misinformation.
The real question is this: how long has Bernie Sanders been a supporter of new marijuana legislation?
The answer probably won’t surprise you if you know about his record on pretty much all his beliefs. That is, he’s one of the most consistent people you’re likely to hear about in politics today. He’s pretty much always wanted to decriminalize and legalize marijuana.
He supports the recent Marijuana Justice Act. If passed, the law would declassify the drug as a controlled substance and prevent retaliation against states that pass their own marijuana legislation. Right now, most state laws are at odds with more restrictive federal laws.
Sanders also supports the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act to deschedule the currently Schedule I drug.
Those are newer bills (that will almost certainly be struck down by the Republican-controlled Senate, but Sanders co-sponsored a House bill that sought to legalize medical marijuana over two decades ago. That’s the kind of record of sensible drug laws that we like!
One financial issue with recreational marijuana in states that have already legalized it is federal prosecutorial action taken against the banks that choose to offer loans to new marijuana businesses. Not only has this occurred, but sometimes Federal agents have shut down otherwise legally operated businesses in California and other states where weed was recently legalized. Sanders wants to protect those banks from prosecution.
In fact, Sanders has voted at least four times in the House to protect states from federal intervention (you would think this would go a long way with Republican voters who routinely shout their wish to increase state powers while reducing federal powers from the highest mountaintop).
Sanders has said that, if elected, he would take executive action to legalize recreational marijuana at the federal level while descheduling the drug within 100 days of taking office. More recently, however, he decided to up the ante. Now he says that executive action would occur on day one.
More than that, he has said he would expunge all non-violent drug-related crimes, and free those who are currently serving sentences for possession of marijuana. Not enough? He also wants to put marijuana selling licenses in the hands of the minority groups who have suffered most!