For the first time, it appears that cannabis policy reform may be an important deciding factor in the United States presidential election. With many Democratic candidates vying to be the party’s nominee, interested voters are paying careful attention to where they stand on current issues. Bernie Sanders took to the Joe Rogan show to discuss his plans for cannabis and drug reform.
During a recent episode of The Joe Rogan Experience, Sanders reaffirmed that he is in favor of legalizing cannabis, but stated that he does not aim to decriminalize all drugs.
What I called for then and I call for now is the legalization of marijuana in America”-Bernie Sanders
“What I called for then and I call for now is the legalization of marijuana in America. Right now you have a federal law – it’s called the Controlled Substance Act. Here’s heroin, here’s marijuana – they’re at the same level. That is insane. Heroin is a killer drug. You can argue the pluses and minuses of marijuana, but marijuana ain’t heroin. So we have to end that. That’s what I will do. As President of the United States, I believe we can do that through executive order. And I will do that.”
Rogan and Sanders discussed other injustices and discrepancies impacting Americans as a result of inconsistent cannabis policy reform. Many Americans continue to have no other option but to purchase cannabis from illegal, unregulated sources. Sanders addressed the idea that in some states, individuals continue to be punished, sometimes with harsh legal action, for cannabis use, while in other states, the same use is legal.
When asked if he thought decriminalization should extend to drugs in addition to the cannabis plant, Sanders replied, “No, not at this point”.
He elaborated, “You’re touching on a real tragedy, though. When we talk about criminal justice in America, we have over 2 million people in jail. They are disproportionately African America, Latino, and Native American. In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, what we have to do instead of building more jails and locking up more people, we really have to invest in our young people. Especially young people in distressed communities(1).”
Several of the other Democratic candidates including Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg have expressed their intention to legalize cannabis if elected president and have addressed the importance of expunging cannabis-related convictions.
Bernie also discussed other key political positions he holds including the expansion of medicare and mental health care services, the need to raise the minimum wage to a livable wage, the importance of addressing the imminent problems associated with climate change, eliminating student debt and providing free college education, and implementing a ban on assault weapons.
“I think ultimately we have got to legalize marijuana, and what’s good news is some communities, some cities, are expunging the records. So if you were arrested [and] have a criminal record for selling marijuana, that is being expunged. And that is the right thing to do,” Sanders told Rogan.
You can listen to the full interview below.
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