In a historical move during a speech in Virginia, Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, announced that he believes it is time to end the prohibition of cannabis at the federal level.
The Vermont senator and self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” shared his views with students from the acclaimed George Mason University and other GOP contenders. Sanders supports removing marijuana from it’s current Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act. Those listed as Schedule I, a classification which means they have a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value, are considered to be the most dangerous drugs outlawed by the US government. Heroin and bath salts are among those listed as Schedule I substances.
“Right now marijuana is listed by the federal government as a schedule-one drug, meaning that it is considered to be as dangerous as heroin. That is absurd,”
Sanders said during the speech.
“In my view, the time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana. In my view, states should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern the sale of alcohol and tobacco.”
While Sanders did not endorse full legalization at the federal level he did point out that he believes that states should have the right to choose how to regulate cannabis like alcohol and tobacco. Sanders also mentioned that cannabis consumers should not face federal prosecution, and that legally operating cannabis businesses should have full access to banking services and tax deductions just like any other business. While he supports policy reform, Sanders believes that those caught unlawfully trafficking and distributing should still face federal prosecution.
No other presidential candidate has called for cannabis to be rescheduled, leaving Sanders as the only candidate who’s views are aligned with 58 percent of the American people who support full legalization, according to the most recent Gallup poll.
“If Sen. Sanders follows through on these comments with legislation, it will be the first time in history that a bill will be introduced in the U.S. Senate to end federal marijuana prohibition,”
said Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority.