Sanders proposes nixing marijuana from federal list of dangerous drugs

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bernie Sanders Proposes Taking Marijuana Off The Government’s ‘Most Dangerous’ Substances List.

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders announced his support Wednesday for removing marijuana from a list of the most dangerous drugs outlawed by the federal government — a move that would free states to legalize it without impediments from Washington.As the Republican candidates prepared to debate in Colorado, the land of legal marijuana, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont told an audience of college students in Virginia that “in my view, the time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana.” At the event at George Mason University, which was live-streamed to about 300 college campuses around the country, Mr. That has got to change.” No other presidential candidate has called for marijuana to be completely removed from the schedule of controlled substances regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Democratic presidential candidate said the nation’s massive prison population and more than 600,000 arrests last year for marijuana possession demands a shift in the country’s drug laws.

Long-shot Democratic hopeful Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, has said that he would put marijuana on Schedule 2, a less-strict designation. He said the problem has a racial disparity as well — a black person is nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana than a white person. “Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. Last year Hillary Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner, said she wanted to “wait and see” how legalisation goes in Colorado and Washington before making a decision. The party’s front-runner, Hillary Rodham Clinton, has repeatedly said she wants to see how legalization experiments in Colorado, Washington and other states play out before committing to any changes at the federal level.

We need major changes in our criminal justice system – including changes in drug laws.” Under Sanders’ proposal, states would be free to legalize marijuana without the threat of federal prosecution, but federal agents would still be empowered to arrest and prosecute people involved in illegal sales. Sanders, who often gets big cheers on the campaign trail when he calls for the decriminalization of marijuana, said that states should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern sales of alcohol and tobacco. “That means,” he said, “that recognized businesses in states that have legalized marijuana should be fully able to use the banking system without fear of federal prosecution.” Proposing to pay for rehabilitation for the abuse of harder drugs with revenue gained from a tax on marijuana, Mr. Sanders also said he saw a “racial component” to the millions of people imprisoned on drug charges and called the legal equivalence of marijuana and heroin “absurd.” It all reflected, he said, that the “criminal justice system is broken.” The position represents a rare reversal for the intensely consistent candidate. The self-proclaimed Democratic socialist had suggested legalising drugs in the 1970s when he was running for office in Vermont, although he had been quieter on the subject since then. In a 2013 memo, the Justice Department essentially agreed to look the other way in states where marijuana is legal, provided that the marijuana industry in those states remained in compliance with state laws.

During this month’s Democratic debate Sanders had returned to his liberal position on drugs, however, saying that if he were a Nevada citizen he would vote for pro-marijuana legislation due to come up in the state in 2016. Sanders said that legalization was tantamount to the nation telling poor people living in “ghettos” that “it’s perfectly O.K. for you to get high, for you to get strung out, for you to be separate from productive society.” He added: “It reminds me very much as to what the British did to the Chinese in China when they ran that country. Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for Drug Policy Action, the political arm of Drug Policy Alliance, tells Rolling Stone his organization has been working closely with Sanders’ Senate office over the last several months on a bill that would end federal marijuana prohibition, which he expects the senator to introduce as early as this week. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

According to a Gallup poll released earlier this month, national support for legalizing pot is at an all-time high, with 58 percent of those surveyed supporting such an outcome. In the first debate in Las Vegas last month, Clinton noted her support of medical marijuana and backed stopping the imprisonment of people who use marijuana.

Still, the ability of Sanders or any Democratic president to move the needle on federal marijuana policy through a reclassification of the drug is likely to face stiff resistance in a Republican-controlled Congress. The senator said if some states went forward, it could lead to new revenues for states that could be used to fight the effects of substance abuse from drugs like heroin that have ravaged communities. “It is time to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. But in July, conservative House Republicans killed a bipartisan proposal to create a sub-class for marijuana so that researchers could simply study the substance legally and offer fresh guidance on whether it should continue to be classified alongside drugs such as heroin and ecstasy.

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