How Long Has Democratic Candidate Bernie Sanders Wanted To Legalize Marijuana?

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 He also endorsed changing outdated drug laws last time he ran for the presidency beginning in 2015.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!

Missouri Struggling To Balance Legalized Marijuana With Inevitable Controversy

This month, hundreds of entrepreneurs were granted permits to conduct medical marijuana business in Missouri. The licenses provide access to several facets of the weed industry, from cultivation, to safety testing, to sales. It even provides stringent guidelines in how to cook up edible the right way. More licenses expanding access points are expected by the end of the month.

But that’s not enough. Only one out of every six applicants received a license to sell. 

What does that mean? The obvious: angry letters, marijuana litigation, appeals, and lobbying. Everything you’d expect of a potentially billion-dollar industry in its infant stages. Missouri isn’t alone. This was the same reaction received in every other state that has legalized medical or recreational marijuana.

Not every state has provided marijuana licenses the same way, though. In Arizona, a basic lottery was conducted. When Florida tried to implement a similar system, the state was promptly sued. After all, why shouldn’t the best applicant be the one to get the first license? Why should it be randomized when the inferior applicants are so much more likely to fail?

Missouri residents began applying for medical marijuana cards as early as June. That resulted in about 1,000 new patients every week. 

New states will most likely legalize recreational marijuana soon. Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota are all poised to get on the ballot in 2020. There may be others. That means the wave is most definitely upon us. Make no mistake, this is a domino effect in progress.

Other states are planning to put medical marijuana on the ballot instead, deciding on a more incremental approach to legalization. Idaho, Mississippi, and Nebraska are among them. South Dakota will likely add a measure to the ballot as well.

Springfield News-Leader reported: “Pro-cannabis types laud marijuana for its capacity to manage pain, wean people from opioids and improve life for people with terminal disease. But due to federal prohibition, little traditional scientific research on cannabis as medicine has been done in the United States, so many of these claims rely on experiential ideas more than empirical study.”

Desmond Morris is the proud owner of Wholesome Bud Company in Springfield, but also Pride Auto Dealing. It seems everyone wants a piece of the new marijuana industry. Still, he says, “The patient is going to be most impacted by this.”

Even though his business is ready, he was denied a license. So was every other Springfield grower. 

He said, “I’m feeling like the goalposts got moved. Not on purpose, but whenever people do things, they make mistakes. When groups do things, they make mistakes.”

And that’s the point. He wants fewer mistakes to be made so the process can become fairer in the future.

Does Your Landlord Have The Right To Evict You For Marijuana Use?

Obviously this is a question we get asked often enough. Just because a state legalizes a drug for recreational use doesn’t necessarily mean employers or lessors will jump on the bandwagon and open up to marijuana use on their properties. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of false stereotypes and stigma attached to the drug. So does your landlord have the right to evict you if you choose to use marijuana in the privacy of your rented apartment or home?

First, it’s important to make the distinction between how you use the drug. Your landlord has the right to ban you from doing anything that could possibly damage the apartment or house — and highest on that list is smoking any substance. Smoke can damage basically everything it touches, which is why it’s so often banned in lease agreements.

But vaping is different. Consuming edibles is much, much different. This is where state laws will most often come into play. If you get caught smoking anywhere on the owner’s property, then as a renter you don’t really have a legal right to sue (successfully) for breaking the rules outlined in the lease contract.

That was what happened to Francine and Timothy Weinandy, who had rented the same apartment for 26 years. Now in their sixties, they use medical marijuana (legally) because they are disabled. Their landlord didn’t care about their situation. He evicted them for smoking on their outdoor balcony. 

Francine said, “No one deserves to have their home taken away from them because of pot.”

But the important distinction is that not only were they smoking, they were doing it on the balcony, where the smoke can technically blow indoors. Smart lessors will stipulate in the lease contract specifically where tenants can smoke, be it 10, 25, or even 50 feet away from the unit, if at all. Public opinion is veering toward legalization of both medical and recreational marijuana, but that won’t change landlords’ opinions on smoke damage.

That’s why it’s important to turn to the contract before you light up a blunt. You could be evicted if you’re not allowed to smoke, and some agreements specifically mention drug use, legal or otherwise.

Evan Loeffler heads the Loeffler Law Group and specializes in landlord-tenant disputes. He said, “This issue comes up quite regularly. I’ve represented a lot of residential landlords writing leases or dealing with tenants who either demand, insist, or deny the use of marijuana.”

Basically, tenants should abide by the contracts they’ve signed. Those who have questions or concerns should confront landlords directly, but respectfully, and simply ask. Landlords are trying to run a business, and renovating smoke damage is expensive. It doesn’t mean they’re against the use of marijuana. If you’re not comfortable speaking to your landlord, then ask a lawyer for advice.

One More Step Taken In National Legalization Of Recreational Marijuana

The House Judiciary Committee recently went further than anyone else has in changing federal law to legalize recreational marijuana — everywhere. The bill passed by the committee would remove marijuana from the Schedule 1 class of drugs (where it quite obviously does not belong). The bill passed in a 24-10 vote. But how far can it go beyond there? That’s the real question.

Democrats control a majority 234 seats in the House of Representatives, which means the bill could theoretically pass through there easily enough. But Republicans mostly oppose new marijuana legislation, and they control the Senate. More importantly, most Republicans are also under Mitch McConnell’s Jedi mind spell. If he says jump into a flaming abyss, they ask whether or not they should do it naked. And McConnell opposes marijuana legalization. 

The legislation isn’t particularly far-reaching in comparison to pass marijuana initiatives, but it’s still bigger and better than anything put forth before now, and the first one in the House. Basically, all it would do is provide states with the authority to draft and implement their own policies (which some states are obviously already doing, federal government be damned). 

The bill also does two very important things: First, it would eliminate criminal records for those who have been convicted of (and are possibly still incarcerated for) low-level marijuana-related criminal activities. Second, it would implement a 5 percent tax on all cannabis sales. Those monies would then be funnelled into programs that support individuals and communities that have been adversely — and disproportionately — affected by the failed War on Drugs.

This would make an enormous difference in drug arrests and convictions in the United States. The American Civil Liberties Union acknowledged that eliminating marijuana-related crimes would reduce drug-related arrests by more than half. That’s a huge difference in the welfare of people who aren’t actually doing anything wrong, even though current laws say they are. 

Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said, “The criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. The racial disparity in marijuana enforcement laws only compounded this mistake with serious consequences, particularly for minority communities.”

To make matters worse, the Democratic frontrunner for the 2020 presidential election is still Joe Biden (even though he’s faltering to others in the early primary states), who has gone on record as saying he doesn’t believe in lifting the prohibition on marijuana. 

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) said, “I don’t think a majority of the Republicans will support this bill. It is even less likely that the Senate would take it up. Therefore, I would just suggest we deal with other bills that we can get a much larger bipartisan support from.”

Nadler replied, “I don’t think it’s a good idea…to say, ‘the Senate won’t take this bill.’ When the House passes a bill, it’s part of a continuing process. It’s not the end of a process.”

Where Do The 2020 Democratic Candidates Stand On Recreational Marijuana Legalization?

Well, the good news is this: all but two candidates running for president in 2020 support efforts to legalize marijuana at the federal level. But here’s the bad news (there’s always bad news): the two candidates who don’t support legalization are Joe Biden and Donald Trump. In other words, if either of the two people most likely to win the White House in 2020 actually get in office, they almost certainly won’t do anything. 

Literally anyone else will. Whoopty-do.

If you’re visiting our website you probably know where we stand regarding the war on drugs and the apparent facts that have determined its disastrous outcome for decades. Joe Biden has been a long-time proponent of this war, and he continues to support it now. He’s the only 2020 Democratic candidate who wants to keep marijuana illegal — but at least he wants to reclassify the drug as Schedule II. That’s hardly good enough, but it would pave the way to more scientific research.

He said in 2010: “There’s a difference between sending someone to jail for a few ounces and legalizing it…The punishment should fit the crime. But I think legalization is a mistake. I still believe [marijuana] is a gateway drug.”

Logically, caffeine and alcohol are “gateway drugs” — because it’s nothing more than a fictional term made up to support nonsense propaganda disseminated to support the drug war decades ago.

That’s not to say Biden isn’t changing policy somewhat now that he’s realized he’s the only Democrat in the field still staunchly opposed to legalization: he wants a period of reform aimed at preventing drug use and racial profiling for drug use crimes. He also wants to end the absurd practice of constructing and funding privately owned prisons, and increase training by correctional officers in public facilities.

Not surprisingly, Bernie Sanders supports legalization (marijuana is already legal in his home state of Vermont as of 2018). Unlike almost all the other candidates, he’s supported legalization for at least two decades. He’s sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act as a senator in Congress. 

He said in 2015: “Right now, marijuana is listed by the federal government as a Schedule I drug — meaning that is is considered to be as dangerous as heroin. That is absurd.”

Elizabeth Warren is another late-comer to the legalization game. Her home state of Massachusetts legislated an adult-use bill for cannabis, a bill for which she did not lend her support. Since then, she has sponsored a number of bills aimed at cannabis reform — but that could be an obvious effort to do as much as possible as quickly as possible to make it seem like she’s always supported these efforts. It’s a facade.

She said in 2018: “No one should go to jail for a joint. But more Americans are arrested for marijuana possession than all violent crimes combined.”

What To Do If You Are Charged With Marijuana Related DUI

Driving under the influence is a serious criminal offense. Prosecutors at the attorney general’s office are more likely to push for significant penalties if they think you might be a danger to society. That’s part of the reason those penalties include community service and drug treatment programs. They want to make sure you will not make the same mistake twice. We all know how DUI works with alcohol — but what happens when you get pulled over and charged with a marijuana-related DUI?

The most basic fact is that marijuana-related DUI charges work exactly like alcohol-related DUI charges. The arresting officer must have reasonable suspicion that you are under the influence of the drug when behind the wheel to make an arrest. At the station you will likely be asked to take a blood test. This test will show the authorities exactly how much THC was in your system when you were driving.

If a driver is found to be over the state’s legal limit, then the driver will be considered “impaired” in the eyes of the law — even if the marijuana did not affect the driver’s ability to perform that function. This is called a “per se” marijuana DUI. Saying you weren’t really encumbered by smoking a little weed is not a valid defense.

States also define the word “impairment” in different ways. Impairment marijuana DUIs work a little differently for that reason. The prosecutor must sometimes prove that the driver was significantly affected by the marijuana to prove impairment.

Visit our website to learn how prosecutors might make mistakes in your marijuana-related DUI case in Florida. There are a number of defense strategies an attorney might use. If the arresting officer did not follow protocol (you’d be surprised how often it happens), then you might find safety. 

Part of the reason that these DUI cases sometimes fail to be prosecuted correctly stems from the fact that field sobriety tests are less accurate in determining a person’s ability to drive than they are when alcohol is a factor. There is no breathalyzer for marijuana — not yet, anyway.

The good news is this: marijuana laws and related offenses are changing due to the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. Sometimes this gives defense attorneys a good opportunity to poke holes in current regulations. Regardless of how you think the law applies to your case, it is always a good idea to contact a criminal defense attorney. An experienced lawyer can always help lay out the facts better than anyone else.

Can Marijuana Use Affect Divorce Proceedings When In Court?

Marijuana is on its way to legalization; no one can argue with that fact. Dozens of states have already legalized the drug for medical use, while others are moving directly to recreational legalization. But in states where marijuana is still an illegal drug, many spouses are asking themselves if smoking could impact an upcoming court case related to their divorce. And unfortunately the answer is yes.

An uncontested divorce lawyer named Aaron Reynolds commented on the reality of illegal drug use for married couples who are separated. “Most people don’t really think about the consequences — even a joint or two can have a direct impact on a person’s ability to find an equitable solution to divorce,” Reynolds said. “In states where the substance is illegal, the court treats it that way. A spouse can use it against you. Seeking an uncontested divorce is the best way out of this, but they aren’t available to just anyone.”

Marijuana is especially damaging for parents seeking shared custody of children. The court will be extremely hesitant to award custody to a person who is knowingly breaking the law, especially since a number of publications continue to openly assert that marijuana is a gateway drug (which is an assertion long since debunked, but that doesn’t seem to matter).

Judges will claim that marijuana use leads to impaired judgement, memory loss, and reduced reaction time, all of which might affect a person’s ability to safely care for kids. Second hand smoke is especially dangerous in the eyes of the law, and no one wants children exposed to drugs. Regardless of whether or not these claims have any merit (most of them don’t in a society where everyone and their brother still cracks open a beer in front of the kids), a spouse who doesn’t smoke will always have an edge over one who does.

Additionally, married couples hold communal property. Often, the finances included in that communal property go to the purchase of any marijuana used by one spouse, and then the other spouse can use that fact to influence the court’s decisions regarding the distribution of property. 

If a spouse smokes marijuana but knows a court date is coming up, it’s time to stop. Without proof, the court can’t render judgement in favor of one person over another. In most cases an immediate court-ordered drug test will be rendered when a party accuses the other of using marijuana. These tests are accurate for a period of about 90 days.

California Restaurant To Marijuana-Laced Cuisine On Menu

It’s the news we’ve all been waiting for: while we might not be able to smoke in public, there’s nothing stopping anyone from consuming food laced with the calming substance. What better place to start the new trend than West Hollywood in Los Angeles? The Lowell Cafe will provide customers with a number of prepackaged food-related options to try the drug on their premises, and it’s completely legal based on state laws.

Only customers aged 21 or over will be allowed to peruse the “flower menu,” of course. Unfortunately, state laws do prevent the establishment’s owners from actually offering any marijuana-laced cuisine that isn’t prepackaged. Isn’t that a shame?

According to the Lowell Cafe’s website, they want their restaurant to be a “welcoming space for those who are cannabis connoisseurs and those who are canna-curious.” Lowell Cafe’s flower menu will be based on what the owners are able to keep in stock from the marijuana-growing local farms in the Los Angeles area. 

The website also says, “There hasn’t been anything like this in existence for over 100 years, dating back to pre-prohibition era cannabis tea pads. We’re excited to set the standard on what a cannabis cafe is and create this experience for the community.”

The idea is based on combining a person’s love of marijuana with their love of local cuisine, which is why the restaurant owners and chefs decided to build the menu only from regional family-friendly farms. 

You can expect the Lowell Cafe to open sometime next month, although the exact date has not been provided yet. The restaurant owners promised to take reservations at least two weeks in advance.

It looks like not everyone is happy about the idea, though.

Synagogue Rabbi Denise Eger of the Kol Ami Congregations said, “The business is to have outdoor space for smoking pot — and I don’t know why my congregation members and participants have to walk through clouds of marijuana to get to synagogue.”

That’s quite an assumption to make, but the city agrees that the cafe’s license should be monitored — and it will be for exactly one year, at which time it will be evaluated. If the cafe has a positive influence on the community as a whole, then it will be renewed. If not, then who can say?

Co-owner Sean Black said, “We want to set a high bar. We better do it right and not mess it up for everybody else. We all feel that pressure.”

What Kind Of Conditions Can Medical Marijuana Treat?

Maybe it was fate that medical marijuana would precede recreational marijuana; after all, medical marijuana has a purpose with which few can argue. The medicinal properties of the plant can work wonders for people when no other drug will alleviate the symptoms. Even though that’s the case, there are some states that haven’t legalized medical marijuana yet — angering proponents and victims of these diseases both. So what kind of symptoms and diseases can we use marijuana to treat?

Basically if you’ve got it, marijuana can help (if you believe the advocates). Here are some of the symptoms it can alleviate:

  • Cancer.
  • Loss of appetite. 
  • Alzheimer’s.
  • Epilepsy. 
  • Glaucoma.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Crohn’s disease.
  • Chronic pain.
  • Spasms. 
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Nausea.

The list goes on and on. It can even be used to treat a few mental health conditions (such as PTSD or schizophrenia). According to opponents of legalization, there’s no proof that marijuana helps remove any of these symptoms or that it can be used to treat any of these diseases. In other words, while certain compounds within marijuana can be activated to reduce stress or pain, the drug can’t be used as a cure. Not really the best argument, since most American medicine is based on relieving symptoms anyway.

Although government regulations have resulted in limited research being done on the drug, much of the research that does exist suggests it can help reduce anxiety, nausea, vomiting, inflammation, relax muscles, or increase appetite. These properties make it ideal for treating chemotherapy, cancer (the cells of which it might even kill or slow down) and AIDS.

One of the examples proponents of marijuana most often use when attempting to overcome legalization laws is that the drug can help eliminate seizures in small children prone to epilepsy. A new drug made from CBD oil was recently approved by the FDA to help people with these and similar diseases, but it’s still not legal everywhere in the United States.

Currently medical marijuana is legal in 33 states with legislation pending in many more that would both legalize medical and recreational marijuana in one fell swoop. The wave is coming, and it seems opponents of legalization can do very little to stop it.

Medical marijuana is prescribed orally, through inhalation, or as a skin lotion or spray. Potential side effects include low blood pressure, depression, rapid heartbeat, and dizziness.

Illinois Legalized Recreational Marijuana, But That Isn’t Stopping The Arrests

Lawmakers from the state of Illinois voted to approve recreational marijuana earlier this month, but the moment failed to arrive without the expected obnoxious resistance from opposing lawmakers. One even cooked up some eggs in a frying pan to “scientifically” represent how the brain appears when introduced to oh-so-dangerous drugs like marijuana. When the Illinois House of Representatives voted 66-47 contrary to that belief, he probably went home and knocked a few stiff ones back.

The Illinois Senate approved the measure and Governor J.B. Pritzker acknowledged his intent to sign the bill into law, which will pave the way for the legalized possession and sale of recreational marijuana on the first day of January next year. Although ten other states have so far approved similar measures to legalize the drug, Illinois is the first to approve the commercial sale of marijuana through legislative efforts alone.

The law won’t come soon enough to help Thomas J. Franzen, 37, of Chicago, though. He was recently sentenced to a whopping four years in prison after postal workers obtained a warrant to search suspicious packages arriving on his doorstep. Subsequent investigative efforts discovered he ordered 42 pounds of chocolate edibles from the great state of California, where apparently you can do anything.

The Kane County State Attorney’s office provided a statement acknowledging that Franzen had been accused of intending to sell or distribute the marijuana-laced chocolate goodies.

Will the new legislation affect this ruling, possibly overturning it sometime in the future? Probably not.

In addition to the 42 pounds of chocolate heaven, authorities found other “evidence of drug dealing” including over $2,000 in bills, postal receipts for packages he’d sent out both in the United States and abroad, and a digital scale. Oh, and cocaine. If that state decides to overturn prior marijuana-related convictions, it’s the cocaine that’ll end up keeping Franzen in prison.

Ouch. That’s got to sting.

Franzen’s attorney had previously failed to argue that he needed the 42 pounds of marijuana (and a smattering of cocaine dressing) for treatment of testicular cancer. The Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon actually took it easy on Franzen, who could have been sentenced to what would have been a mandatory 12-year minimum in accordance with the sentencing standards bound to the aforementioned crimes.

“In recognition of the seriousness of Mr. Franzen’s medical condition,” (and probably because they maybe thought Franzen had been running through an intense Breaking Bad marathon at the time), “our office reduced a 12-year mandatory minimum sentence to four years, of which he is required to serve only two years.”

Prosecutors also dropped more serious trafficking charges. All said, Franzen got off a lot easier than most would have.