In a recent story by the Washington Post, Bernie Sanders has taken a big step forward in ending the War on Drugs, by proposing we remove marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 drugs. The implications for this are huge, because it will end the federal witch hunt against non-violent marijuana users. It will also allow states that have decided to legalize it for recreational or medicinal use to not have to deal with Feds trying to contradict their state management of it, similar to alcohol.
Bernie is the first major-party candidate to endorse full pot legalization. This isn’t an “up to the states thing” anymore, that people like Rand Paul are spewing. It would simply be legal, period.
In a recent poll, 60 percent of Americans favor the idea of legalization of marijuana. This is a trend that has been growing substantially in recent years. The only candidate coming close to Bernie’s response yet is Rand Paul, but his response is really no response. He takes no position on it other than “get rid of national government and let states decide”, which is a cop-out so he can play all sides.
Sanders has expressed strong opinions on the disparity in the criminalization of marijuana, compared to other more serious issues, in the past as well:
And I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana. I think we have to think through this war on drugs…which has done an enormous amount of damage. We need to rethink our criminal justice system, we we’ve got a lot of work to do in that area.
Within the context of mass incarceration, where we have nearly 1.6 million people in federal and state prisons, 50 percent of whom are there for non-violent drug offenses, and with the majority of these being people of color, this presses a serious issue that needs to be addressed. The savings on our state and federal budget would be immense, and it would allow more people to be productive members of society, instead of being criminals hardened by prison. It would also allow more people to be employed in our country, by not having a felony conviction attached to them for life, especially in minority communities. With this push, will Clinton and other Democrats be forced to move forward on the issue as well, as Bernie has prodded them to do so many times up till now?
Featured Image via Gage Skidmore