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Bernie Sanders Proposes De-Scheduling Marijuana

bernie sanders marijuana
(image via Wikipedia)

Today news broke that Democratic Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders plans to announce his proposal to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances according to a recent report from the Washington Post.  He plans on making his announcement during an event being held at George Mason University aimed at addressing a myriad of issues that are of concern to college students. If you are catching this story before 4pm PST, you can stream the event here.

Per WaPo:

“The time is long overdue for us to take marijuana off the federal government’s list of outlawed drugs,” he said in prepared remarks given to the Post by his campaign. ”In my view, states should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern sales of alcohol and tobacco.”

In the words of Vice-President Joe Biden, “This is a big fucking deal”.

During his stump speeches, Sanders has routinely talked about the idiocy of policing young people who smoke marijuana, while the Wall Street bankers that destroyed our economy walk free. His tweets on the subject have been retweeted thousands of times.

 

In the first Democratic primary debate, Bernie came out and said that if he were living in Nevada that he would vote for legalization in 2016, which caused his top rival Hillary Clinton to come out the next day and say that she favored allowing states to experiment with legalization without interference from the federal government. Bernie was also recently asked about legalization on Jimmy Kimmel Live where he said, “”We have more people in jail today than any other country on earth…We have large numbers of lives that have been destroyed because of this war on drugs, and because people were caught smoking marijuana and so forth. I think we have got to end the war on drugs.”

The importance of Bernie evolving to take the position of de-scheduling is huge for a few reasons.

1) No other Presidential candidate has gone as far as to say that marijuana shouldn’t be regulated by the federal government at all. 2) It is the Controlled Substances Act and the nature of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug  that has allowed for federal prohibition to exist, and is for the most part the foundation of state level prohibition. 3) Without marijuana being a controlled substance the cannabis industry would be able to gain access to banking and tax equity just like any other business. This would open up the flood gates of opportunity, allowing the cannabis industry access to much needed capital, and allowing investors a piece of mind that they can start to legally get involved with the industry. 4) It would lift restrictions on marijuana research, allowing science and innovation to help lead the way to medical research revolutions in areas focusing on PTSD, Alzheimers, Seizures, Autism, among many other conditions that we have anecdotal evidence that cannabis can help.

Simply put, de-scheduling of cannabis is what every marijuana reformer has dreamed of as our perfect scenario. Two of the most important policy goals at the federal level for the marijuana reform movement over the last few years has been to get cannabis businesses access to banking and tax equity. Sanders’ forthcoming proposal would allow for this to happen. De-scheduling would be huge for aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs, and would finally end the insane idea that the federal government should be spending any resources policing a plant that is objectively safer than alcohol.

After months of anticipation, Sanders announcement today solidifies that he is the candidate marijuana reformers should be supporting. His campaign has even started an official petition to let states make marijuana legal, which you can sign here.

“Someone in the United States is arrested every minute on marijuana charges. 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.

Bernie favors removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances regulated by federal law. Under Bernie’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. Bernie would continue to allow federal law enforcement officials to arrest and prosecute drug dealers for trafficking in marijuana sales.

Add your name to stand with Bernie to let states make marijuana legal.”

If you haven’t already, you should sign this petition and send some money to BernieSanders.com to thank him for his support of de-scheduling marijuana!

  • darthhillbilly

    I FEEL THE BERN! Finally someone is taking a common sense approach to marijuana reform. I’m just curious as to wether or not any other presidential hopefuls try to climb on the bandwagon…

  • Sinclair

    Hmm someone just called me stupid for saying that Bernie Sanders has done more for legalization than Clinton and Huckabee.
    Well Bernie keep up the good work.

  • MrPC

    Maybe Hillary will notice and reconsider her position on marijuana? Bernie has pushed the conversation in a good direction on many fronts.

    • Bill Doane

      I wouldn’t believe Hillary at all she has never said anything about legalizing marijuana until bernie sanders came out 4 marijuana to be descheduled she is a total liar and a traitor to our country

    • Jetdoc

      She’s waiting on the latest polls to make HER policy decision!

      • MrPC

        Gosh, looking at what the people actually think about an issue! How un-American!

        • Jetdoc

          But But when policy is driven by polls. It shifts with the wind! So does she!

  • Lawrence Goodwin

    Great article by Kaliko Castille! Courtesy of the good people at The Weed Blog. As a sitting U.S. senator, Bernie Sanders has full authority to get this done. Forget about the 2016 election. That’s WAY too long for any of us to wait, considering more than 45 YEARS of “marihuana” fraud perpetrated on our entire country (and even the world). Forget the measly change to Schedule II proposed in the so-called CARERS Act, which would allow similar amounts of anti-cannabis repression as now. The fraudulent word “marihuana” never belonged in the Controlled Substances Act. Have your colleagues erase it, Bernie, and then rename as primary regulator the Bureau of Alcohol, Cannabis, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Thank you.

  • Grampa Scott

    Woo-Hoo!

  • vickia52

    yea Bernie!

  • HellNo

    Hell yeah!

  • jontomas

    Bernie Sanders is the man! – Time to send him another check!

  • beastiebloomz

    Good for him

    Big allegations brewing against Michigan state police labs in charges against sick patient
    http://fox17online.com/2015/10/28/allegations-michigan-state-police-crime-labs-falsely-reporting-marijuana-creating-felonies-against-card-carrying-patients/

  • skoallio

    Unless he signs a pledge to oppose Project Sam, you shouldnt trust him.

    • Dingus Mcgee

      i wouldnt trust anyone who signed any pledge.

    • IJR

      Bernie has no chance, like you taking an I.Q. test.

  • peoriadude

    This is awesome, and I’m not trying to be a troll, but I have to comment about this one thing.

    “1) No other Presidential candidate has gone as far as to say that
    marijuana shouldn’t be regulated by the federal government at all.”

    That just isn’t true, although I get the excitement behind Bernie finally getting to this position after 24 years in office. Green and Libertarian Party candidates have long called for the end of federal regulation of cannabis. I don’t know enough about the Green Party’s history, but I do know every Libertarian candidate since 1980 has been on the ballot in enough states to win, and every one of them has called for cannabis being removed from the CSA.

    Rand Paul teamed with Barney Frank back in 2011 to take cannabis out of the CSA schedules altogether, as well, so there is that. Bernie did not support that legislation at the time.

    https://reason.com/blog/2011/06/23/more-on-the-frankpaul-marijuan

    Prior to this proposal, in 2005 Bernie proposed moving cannabis from schedule 1 to schedule 2. It didn’t get nearly as much media attention as this and I missed it earlier this year because I didn’t look back into the Bush administration, but it is great to see Bernie changing his position now while he has a bigger audience.

    But he is not the first Presidential candidate to have this position of removing it from the CSA schedules altogether. In addition to Green and Libertarian candidates, Ron Paul also called for this during his three runs for President, twice as a Republican and once as a Libertarian.

  • Jerry Cook

    Whoo hooo, go Bernie! If pres, he would make a big positive difference like Justin Trudeau. Justin & freeing the weed is for sure in Canada..election done & the people have spoken for big change. More & more people are with Bernie so its now possible in the USA too. He is the only candidate financed by the people, not big money & “pacs”, free to put people first, not biggest biz.

  • NickyChuck

    This is a real success story of concerted activism pushing a presidential candidate to reconsider his stance and break with the conventional wisdom that you can’t be taken seriously and support legalization! This moves the ENTIRE CONVERSATION in both the primaries and the general election. Now candidates will have to talk about whether they also support descheduling, and why. The hardliners will look even more out-of-touch when they see Bernie capitalizing on moving in the opposite direction. All the more reason to help Sen. Sanders out and toss him a few bucks so he can demonstrate how popular his position is!

  • peoriadude

    Really, The Weed Blog, are dissenting opinions welcome, or are you just saying that?

    • Jetdoc

      It was prolly the link that held it up!

      • peoriadude

        Perhaps. Not the first time I’ve had comments sit for a day or more on “pending” status, but whatever.

  • JimNyc

    If marijuana is “de-shedualed” would that mean I no longer have to fear a drug test and risk losing my job because of marijuana?

    • saynotohypocrisy

      It might lead to big changes in the acceptance of medicinal use when off work, perhaps enforced by the courts. But the only way I see rescheduling quickly helping with recreational use is that it would send a signal that cannabis isn’t as dangerous as prohibs claim, and maybe some companies would voluntarily change their policy as a result. I can’t see it affecting a business’ supposed ‘right’ to require drug tests for weed unless the company had contractually tied their drug testing to cannabis’ schedule 1 status.
      Sorry to have to give you such an answer.

    • Jetdoc

      One would think. But????

    • Valient

      No. Your job is allowed to test/fire you for anything they feel like as long as it’s not clearly discriminatory for the protected classes. There are companies that have rules against smoking or alcohol use and others that force health guidelines. They won’t be required to include it in drug tests, as it will no longer be a schedule 2 or above drug, but they can still test and fire for it because they don’t believe the “liberal propaganda”

      • JimNyc

        What if you work for a federal agency like police/fire/sanitation in a state that has legalized marijuana after/if/when it’s removed from the list. Will a federal agency be able to test for what ever they want?

        • Valient

          That’ll ultimately be up to what federal policy decides after the changes are made, so it’s difficult to say.

          They need to completely end the discrimination against it. They pretend like it’s fine to consider it a risk for security or military positions, as if using it instantly makes you a terrible criminal.

          I’ve personally heard this argument.

          You know, if you’re in the military/police, and you get high while off duty and you suddenly get called to duty, you could be high! (Which, I suppose, means you’ll laugh and continue to sit on the couch eating while saying “Chillax, dude. Here, come hit this”)

          I responded that you could be legally drunk, which happens to be a favorite pastime of many of our soldiers, and face the same situation, but more likely be much more inebriated. They changed the subject.

      • Dingus Mcgee

        depends. if there are no federal restrictions and your state has an mmj system, it could be held that the employer cannot prohibit the employees medicine.

  • Stel-1776

    While the potential harms of using cannabis are widely publicized (and often exaggerated), little is mentioned of the harms of its prohibition. When making cannabis policy decisions, it would be irresponsible to ignore these harms…and costs.

    For this prohibition to be justified it needs to be established that:

    1) Cannabis is particularly harmful (at least more than alcohol)
    2) The prohibition will significantly reduce problematic usage

    And:

    3) The direct and indirect costs of prohibition to an American society need to be less than any gains from 1 and 2 (don’t underestimate the value we place on freedom and liberty)

    None of these 3 requirements have ever been established. After decades of research, the relative safety and medical efficacy of cannabis have been established well enough to conclude that it is significantly less harmful and more useful than alcohol. The vast majority of preventable harms related to cannabis are caused by the very laws that are supposed to “protect us” from it. Some of these harms are:

    •Increased deaths of countless people involved on all sides of the “war”, including those of law enforcement and bystanders
    •The spending of 100’s of billions of our dollars seeking out, arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating otherwise law-abiding citizens
    •The loss of billions in tax revenue from cultivation, distribution, and sales, which can be used for all substance abuse treatment
    •The redirection of valuable police time and resources from solving and preventing true crime
    •The filling of our jails with non-violent offenders, exposing them to true criminals and forcing the early release of dangerous criminals
    •All sales, over 10 million pounds per year, are unregulated and placed in the hands of criminals who never check ID
    •The empowerment and expansion of underground markets as a very popular substance is placed within them
    •Increased violent crime as dealers and buyers have no legal recourse to resolve disputes
    •Increased exposure to hard drugs as many cannabis consumers buy from suppliers who have access to them, even push them
    •Increased likelihood of contamination with anything from harmful pesticides and molds to other drugs
    •The prevention of some adults from choosing a recreational substance less harmful than alcohol
    •The notion that all illegal drugs are particularly dangerous is weakened
    •Increased corruption within the legal system
    •The invasion of our civil liberties, which in America we hold in especially high regard
    •The prevention of people from receiving effective medicine
    •The prevention of people from receiving decent employment, scholarship money, and student aid due to their “criminal” record, which affects not just them but their family as well
    •Families are torn apart as members are imprisoned or children taken away in the name of “protecting them”
    •Increased support of tremendous multinational criminal networks
    •Increased public mistrust, disrespect, and disdain for our legal system, police, and government, which is devastating to our country

    Considering these great costs, it is unreasonable to continue this policy against a substance objectively less harmful than alcohol. Why are we forcing police to deal with something that is, if anything, a minor public health issue? Why are we criminalizing people for something that has been safely enjoyed by millions of Americans for decades, something that a majority of Americans believe should be legalized recreationally?

    Cannabis prohibition is a travesty of justice based on irrational fears and paranoia from an archaic era that needs to end now. Cannabis must be legalized and regulated similar to alcohol. Prohibition policies do not work for popular things that are safely enjoyed by many…especially not in a country that values liberty, justice, and freedom.

    A vote to end cannabis prohibition is a vote to condemn a costly prohibition that causes more harm than it prevents.

    Please urge your legislators to implement a cannabis policy similar to that of alcohol. Consider what the following cannabis legalization organizations have to say. Help end this harmful, unjust, unfounded, unpopular, un-American prohibition by joining their mailing lists, signing their petitions and writing your legislators when they call for it.

    MPP – The Marijuana Policy Projecthttp://www.mpp.org/
    DPA – Drug Policy Alliancehttp://www.drugpolicy.org/
    NORML – National Organization to Reform Marijuana Lawshttp://norml.org/
    LEAP – Law Enforcement Against Prohibitionhttp://www.leap.cc/

  • Sean

    Bernie has earned my vote.

  • Jetdoc

    Unbelievable pandering! You wanna impress me SENATOR Sanders? How about SPONSORING or even CO-sponsoring ANY current Legislation in the Senate to DO just what you say you want! What? You’re NOT even a co-sponsor of ANY current legislation to reform draconian marijuana laws? But NOW you wanna DE-schedule it? Hmmmmmmmm…

    He hasn’t even signed on as a CO-sponsor of the CARERS Act to RE-schedule marijuana in order to allow research and allows Veterans to be able to use marijuana to treat their PTSD!

    • peoriadude

      I think Bernie is planning to introduce legislation that is more comprehensive, in that it will deal with banking, hemp, the CSA, etc. I agree, it would have been nice if he had done more during the 24 years he has been in federal office, but better late than never. This is probably his best shot to beat Hillary, her money, her connections, and her organization.

      Here’s a comment a tried to post previously but that is still “pending”. I took out the link, so maybe a moderator won’t have to approve it and ignore it this time.
      …..

      This is awesome, and I’m not trying to be a troll, but I have to comment about this one thing.

      “1) No other Presidential candidate has gone as far as to say that
      marijuana shouldn’t be regulated by the federal government at all.”

      That just isn’t true, although I get the excitement behind Bernie finally getting to this position after 24 years in office. Green and Libertarian Party candidates have long called for the end of federal regulation of cannabis. I don’t know enough about the Green Party’s history, but I do know every Libertarian candidate since 1980 has been on the ballot in enough states to win, and every one of them has called for cannabis being removed from the CSA.

      Rand Paul teamed with Barney Frank back in 2011 to take cannabis out of the CSA schedules altogether, as well, so there is that. Bernie did not support that legislation at the time.

      Prior to this proposal, in 2005 Bernie proposed moving cannabis from schedule 1 to schedule 2. It didn’t get nearly as much media attention as this and I missed it earlier this year because I didn’t look back into the Bush administration, but it is great to see Bernie changing his position now while he has a bigger audience.

      But he is not the first Presidential candidate to have this position of removing it from the CSA schedules altogether. In addition to Green and Libertarian candidates, Ron Paul also called for this during his three runs for President, twice as a Republican and once as a Libertarian.

      • Jetdoc

        Hasn’t Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush ALL come out and say this’s a States Rights issue? That’s saying virtually the same thing isn’t it? “that the Federal Gov’t should leave STATES who passes legalization alone?

        • peoriadude

          Rand Paul has actually introduced legislation that would remove cannabis from the CSA schedules altogether. Cruz and Bush (and Hillary) have only paid lip service to the states’ rights aspect. None of them has said a word about removing it entirely from the CSA schedules.

          Heck, GW Bush and Obama both said it should be left up to the states during their campaigns, so in my book, you can’t trust anyone who just says states’ rights on this. That isn’t nearly far enough.

          Until it is removed from the CSA schedules, no state can completely legalize, as we can see with the banking, IRS, asset forfeitures, Native American hemp, and research issues. All those US Attorneys out there, the DEA, the IRS, and any other federal alphabet agency can go after cannabis whenever they want even if a President says it should be left up to the states as long as cannabis remains in the Controlled Substance Act schedules.

          • Jetdoc

            That’s fair! I understand that. But again Rand Paul WALKS the WALK! He’s actually DONE what these people are now talking about. I mean, if you’re 74 years old and just NOW, come out in favor of legalization? I’m sorry, I think that’s pandering!

            Now if it were someone like Marco Rubio (44) (JUST an example) who changed his mind and now favors legalization. I’d believe THAT, before I will a guy who’s 74 and just NOW comes out in favor of legalization.

            Really Bernie? WTF ya been bruh? It’s not like this’s a NEW issue! You’ve supported the FAILED War on Drugs for MANY years in the “Congress”. Now at 74, you have an epiphany? cough… cough… Bullshit!

    • HellNo

      You make a good point, one that I believe will apply to an increasing number of politicians in the next few years. Politicians are accustomed to hiding their own youthful indiscretions, while claiming to support laws they may not believe in.
      Now that public opinion favors drug policy reform, political positions will shift.
      Wether you support Bernie or not, this announcement is great news. This opens the door for serious discussion on ending prohibition.

    • Kick Frenzy

      I’m sure you’re aware of this by now, but if not…

      Sanders Introduces Bill To Lift Federal Ban On Marijuana
      http://www.buzzfeed.com/cjciaramella/sanders-introduces-bill-to-lift-federal-ban-on-marijuana?utm_term=.cj6eqpYVg#.lpQmoVqG8

      I also just found out that he co-sponsored a bill that re-scheduled marijuana to Schedule 2 for the express purpose of allowing for legal medical marijuan.
      http://www.ontheissues.org/Notebook/Note_01-HR2592.htm

      • Jetdoc

        Stay up with the conversation please. Look at when I said what I did! It was BEFORE he came out with this bill. So I wasn’t wrong! Which I STILL say is pandering! 72 yrs old, and he’s just NOW getting around to this? WTF was he, for the decades he’s been in office?

        If he were 40-55 yrs old, I could understand such a drastic change in heart. Because they’ve grown up KNOWING it doesn’t cause White women to wanna sleep with Black men. Nor does it make Mexicans RAPE white women. People don’t believe they can defy gravity after its use! But at 72? He’s much closer to DEATH than he is his birth! Which begs the question… Where were you in the 60’s Bernie? Didn’t you know all this THEN?

        When you’ve never done it in your career, yet now you’re running for President, and at 72 yrs old, you all of a SUDDEN, want it legalized? That makes me suspicious!

        He’s absolutely RIGHT in what he’s asking for! I’m not faulting him for that. I’d say the SAME thing though if it were one of the Republicans, who had NEVER supported it before. The timing just seems AWFULLY CONVENIENT! Doesn’t it seem suspicious to you?

        People have been going to jail for this since 1937! About the SAME amount of time Bernie’s been in Congress! (said tongue in cheek, so you don’t call me a liar) So, I’d be AWFULLY suspicious if I were you.

        Other than the obvious, I’d really LOVE to know his reasoning for legalization! What WAS it, that all of a sudden clicked in his mind, and made him say VOILA… “prohibition of marijuana is wrong”! THAT’S the $64K question, right there!

        • Kick Frenzy

          Don’t worry, I’m totally up on the conversation.
          In fact, I should’ve been more clear about the fact I was attempting to bring this to your attention, while figuring you had probably already seen it, since you last commented here.

          His reasoning for pursuing descheduling legislation now, instead of 20 years ago, is probably a matter of where America stands on the topic.
          Had he presented it 10 years ago, it would have no chance whatsoever… now that public opinion has tipped the 50% mark, it would have a chance.

          Maybe it’s partially due to running for president, but I don’t believe it’s something he is doing just for the candidacy… something he doesn’t believe in, but is wagging the dog for votes.
          I think Hillary does that on a few things, but Bernie has decades of staying true to his core beliefs that lend me to believe it’s not his style.

          • Jetdoc

            I got ya bruh! I understand exactly what you’re saying! But there’s nothing wrong with me being skeptical either though!

          • Kick Frenzy

            Nothing wrong with being skeptical at all!
            In fact, it’s good to be skeptical of any and every presidential candidate.

            I was just pointing out that there is little to no chance that Bernie Sanders would pander on anything.
            It’s not his style.

  • Closet Warrior

    I am for rescheduling as to help w/research and the existing businesses would be able to bank like normal citezins. I am passionate about mmj but recreational would not bother me in the least as long as poor counties in every state reaped the benefits as well. If all else fails-throw a few seeds in the ground and watch your rights sprout and grow as they should. Personally, I feel everyone has the right to grow freedom within the confines of your personal property that you pay federal taxes on.Let It Grow, Let it Grow, Let it Grow!!!