Bernie Sanders Promises to Use Executive Order to Legalize Marijuana

Andrew Kelly/File Photo/Reuters

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a longtime proponent of legalized marijuana, promised on Thursday that in his first 100 days in the White House he would issue an executive order directing the drug be removed from the list of controlled federal substances.

Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, unveiled a legalization plan that would also vacate the records of those convicted of marijuana-related crimes, and invest tax revenue from legal sales of the drug in communities hit hardest by the enforcement of marijuana laws.

“We’re going to legalize marijuana and end the horrifically destructive war on drugs,” Sanders said in a statement released with his plan. “It has disproportionately targeted people of color and ruined the lives of millions of Americans.”

Sanders is one of 18 contenders seeking the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election. Most of the Democratic candidates have embraced some form of marijuana legalization, or at least decriminalization, as public opinion has shifted in recent years to majority support.

A Gallup poll earlier this month found two of every three Americans support marijuana legalization. Eleven states and the District of Columbia now allow legal recreational use, and more than 30 states have legalized it for medical use.

During his losing 2016 White House bid, Sanders became the first high-profile presidential candidate to support legalizing marijuana. The plan released on Thursday fleshed out some of the details of his approach.

As president, according to the plan, Sanders would issue an executive order directing his attorney general to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance. It is listed in the same category as heroin with drugs the federal government deems have no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Sanders also would introduce legislation in the U.S. Congress to make legalization permanent.

Sanders would create programs to invest in minority communities his campaign said have been disproportionately hit by enforcement of marijuana laws.

Citing statistics showing black Americans are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for possession, despite similar rates of marijuana use across the races, the plan would create a $20 billion program within the Minority Business Development Agency to provide business grants to entrepreneurs of color.

It also would create a $10 billion U.S. Department of Agriculture program to aid marijuana growing operations in communities with high arrest rates to ensure “the people victimized by criminalization see the direct benefits,” the campaign said.

The plan includes incentives to ensure the marijuana industry is not overtaken by big tobacco companies.

(Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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Chrissy
Member

AOC looks like she’s saying “oh Bernie, listen, listen, I have an idea to end the War on Drugs- we give up!!!”

Jeffrey Moore
Member

No president can actually legalize anything by an executive order. All he can do is stop enforcement of a legally passed law (like Obama did with his “DACA” program). To legalize anything, a law must be passed or repealed. Presidents don’t make laws. Only the legislature (Congress) makes laws.

Methinks Bernie needs to learn about American government.

william jackson
Member

Bernie Panders
No character—no morals—no values
Will say anything to get a vote

Dave Hardesty
Member

I think he would sell poison to his children if he thought it would win him the election. Who knows he might pull it off if the pot heads can stay awake long enough to vote. Thair’s gold in them thair pot shops and it didn’t come from Acapulco. Growers get 20%, the state gets 50% and the shop owners get 30%. est money making racket since prostitution. Dumb pot heads don’t realize that they pay more for their pot than they did when t was illegal and crime associated with pot has increased. Just look at the crime reports.

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