Sunday, November 1, 2015

Bernie Sanders: Let States Make Marijuana Legal

Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo:
Senator Bernie Sanders. (photo:

By Press Release,
29 October 15
iting a recent FBI report that someone in the United States is arrested every minute on marijuana charges, Sen. Bernie Sanders told a nationwide meeting of college students on Wednesday that he would take marijuana off the federal government’s list of outlawed drugs.

Speaking from George Mason University to 250 online student meetings in all 50 states, Sanders said he favors removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances regulated by federal law.

“In the United States we have 2.2 million people in jail today, more than any other country. And we’re spending about $80 billion a year to lock people up. We need major changes in our criminal justice system – including changes in drug laws,” Sanders said.

“Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That’s wrong. That has got to change,” he added. Under the senator’s proposal, people in states which legalize marijuana no longer would be subject to federal prosecution for using pot. Owners of stores that sell marijuana could fully participate in the banking system, like any other business.

States which want to regulate marijuana would remain free to do so the same way local laws now govern sales of alcohol and tobacco. Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, would continue to allow federal law enforcement officials to arrest and prosecute drug dealers for trafficking in marijuana sales.

Highlighting the proposal as part of a criminal justice reform agenda, Sanders noted that there were 620,000 marijuana possession arrests in 2014. That’s one a minute, according to The Washington Post.

Sanders pointed to marijuana arrests as another example of the disparate treatment of African-Americans by the criminal justice system. Although about the same proportion of blacks and whites use marijuana, a black person is almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, the American Civil Liberties Union found. According to the ACLU report, there were more than 8 million marijuana arrests in the United States from 2001 to 2010, and almost 9 in 10 were for possession. State governments spent $3.6 billion enforcing marijuana possession laws in 2010, the most recent year in the study.

Arrests for marijuana possession rose nationwide last year even as Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the use of marijuana, followed by Oregon, Alaska and the District of Columbia. The legalization movement may spread next year when marijuana decriminalization advocates plan to put the question to voters on ballots in Nevada, Arizona and California.

A 2012 estimate calculated that about 20,000-30,000 people are in prison on marijuana possession alone.


+2 # reiverpacific 2015-10-29 09:41
Does that include the united States of Pacifica bloc; Washington, Oregon and California (It's only legal for prescription medical use in Hawaii)?
Have those imprisoned for Cannabis possession in such states been released?
+8 # jimmyjames 2015-10-29 10:53
Hallelujah! Bernie should garner a shitload of votes for his stance on marijuana. And it's about time somebody with some real sense made this commitment.
+8 # MsAnnaNOLA 2015-10-29 10:54
We should have full legalization with no constraints or criminal penalties. Let people grow and use it as they wish.
0 # MidwestTom 2015-10-29 13:19
You do not understand the devastation this will cause south of our border; imagine gangs with no money, gun dealers with no customers. How can we possibly do this and destroy 2/3 of the export market for many Central American countries.
0 # Robbee 2015-10-29 11:03
# reiverpacific 2015-10-29 09:41 "Have those imprisoned for Cannabis possession in such states been released?"

- i hear obama is working on this, in all states
+5 # reiverpacific 2015-10-29 11:19
Quoting Robbee:
# reiverpacific 2015-10-29 09:41 "Have those imprisoned for Cannabis possession in such states been released?"

- i hear obama is working on this, in all states

Thanks. That should relieve the load on many "correctional" warehouses, a.k.a. "Universities of Crime".
Now let's get behind Bernie's wish to close private prisons.
+4 # Dongi 2015-10-29 11:53
It's about time to decriminalize marijuana and end private prisons. Time to start thinking and end the tenure of Republican politicians. Come on Bernie, you can do it.
-1 # MidwestTom 2015-10-29 13:16
Marijuana is just one of many questions that should be left up to the states. I would suggest that polygamy as a states issue, also gun ownership, and educational standards.
+1 # dbrize 2015-10-29 13:20
Bernie for the Tenth Amendment.

Now, that is going to pull in some crossover votes.

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