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Marijuana Legalization Activists Should Support Bernie Sanders For President

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Next year will be a monumental year for marijuana legalization.bernie sanders marijuana

As a movement we are heading into our third national election cycle as a legitimate political force. It started when the first two bricks in the wall of prohibition fell on election night in 2012, when the voters of Colorado and Washington voted in favor of the legalization and regulation of marijuana. Some may even recall that marijuana legalization received more votes in Colorado than President Obama did during his successful reelection campaign.

In 2014, two more states were added to that list (Oregon and Alaska), along with the District of Columbia. Since then, activists around the country have been racing to add their states to the list of those who are 420 friendly. In 2016, as many as eight more states are looking to legalize marijuana, with at least five or six of those campaigns being in strong positions to make it happen.

Considering that the Obama administration was still ignoring our movement in 2012, the upcoming election in 2016 is most certainly going to be the first Presidential election in which we will be taken seriously.

There are currently two candidates running for President who have been willing to speak out in a positive way on our issue.

On the Republican side, libertarian-leaning Rand Paul has stated on multiple occasions that he is in support of states’ ability to legalize marijuana without federal intervention. Paul even courted donations from the marijuana industry this summer. Even louder than his rhetoric on marijuana and federalism is his support for several legislative priorities for marijuana reformers, including S.683 The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2015, which would effectively allow states to set their own policies in regards to medical marijuana without the feds getting in the way. He was one of the three original co-sponsors, and spoke at the press conference held to announce the legislation.

Although Rand has said he is not a proponent of legalization and has said that marijuana use lowers IQ, he is far and away the best candidate seeking the Republican nomination for President. In a crowded field and in a political system that is dominated by big money, Rand Paul’s chances of winning the Republican nomination are looking pretty slim, at least according to recent polling numbers. There is no doubt that Paul brings much needed attention to the insane nature of the War on Drugs; but in a primary election where a billionaire, reality-TV star has sucked up all the air in the room, it’s tough for someone who actually has policy proposals to breakthrough.

bernie-sanders-portrait-01The very fact that big money politics has left marijuana on the back burner for so long is exactly why I believe the marijuana industry should be supporting Bernie Sanders for President.

I believe that Bernie Sanders is the best candidate running for President, not only for his stance on marijuana, but also because he wants to fundamentally change the political system that has left us out in the cold for decades. I think that with the support of the cannabis industry he can win the Democratic nomination for President and help bring some rationality to the marijuana conversation nationally.

We just need to push him to take some concrete steps in his capacity as Senator from Vermont to support legislation that his colleague Rand Paul has already signed on to.

Bernie Sanders has long been a supporter of more sensible marijuana policies. In 2005, he was one of the original co-sponsors of the States’ Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, which would have rescheduled medical marijuana, allowing doctors to prescribe and recommend cannabis to their patients. In 1997 he signed on to an earlier version of that same bill, and in 1998 he voted against a resolution that stated Congress’ disapproval of the idea that marijuana could be used for medicinal purposes.

A couple of months ago after announcing his candidacy, Sanders took part in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session where he was asked inevitably about his stance on marijuana legalization. Here was his answer:

“Let me just say this — the state of Vermont voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and I support that. I have supported the use of medical marijuana. And when I was mayor of Burlington, in a city with a large population, I can tell you very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana. Our police had more important things to do.Colorado has led the effort toward legalizing marijuana and I’m going to watch very closely to see the pluses and minuses of what they have done. I will have more to say about this issue within the coming months.”

Since then he has been asked in interviews with Time and Politico about his views on marijuana, where he has said that he believes that it is a trend that is supported by many young people and that other states will follow in the footsteps of Colorado. He also rebutted President Obama’s recent joke at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner where Obama called Sanders a “pot-smoking socialist”, saying that he hasn’t smoked marijuana in over 30 years.

He has thus far stopped shy of saying that he supports marijuana legalization nationwide, but he has on numerous occasions brought up marijuana in his stump speeches, comparing locking kids up for smoking weed while Wall Street bankers walk free after destroying our economy. During his recent hour long speech to a raucous, overflowing, crowd of 28,000 in Portland, Oregon (his largest crowd to date) he made it a point to bring up this disparity in punishment. You can hear the line for yourself in this video starting at about 25:28.

If the marijuana community wants to have an impact on the election of 2016, Bernie Sanders is our guy. Bernie Sanders is a politician that is not beholden to special interests or big money donors, therefore he is a politician who actually responds to the needs of real people.

When Black Lives Matters activists didn’t think that Sanders was giving their issue enough attention, they interrupted a forum at Netroots Nation where Sanders was to speak. Although Sanders has a long history of supporting civil rights, he was still willing to hear them out. He even reached out to a prominent activist named Symone Sanders, who has now been hired as the National Press Secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign. Since bringing her on board, Bernie has put out a full racial justice platform that includes the need to de-militarize our police, banning for-profit prisons, and turning away from the War on Drugs. I think that this not only shows that he understands the issues at hand, but that he is willing to listen, and isn’t afraid to take tough stances on issues that too often have been swept under the rug.

Since the rise of Bernie Sanders, and lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy (except for in the mainstream media), there have been rumors that Vice-President Joe Biden is looking to get into the Democratic primary race.

For those of us who have been paying attention to drug policy, we know that Joe Biden has historically been one of the worst Democratic politicians when it comes to the War on Drugs. He not only helped create the Drug Czar position, but he also fought for mandatory minimum sentences for federal marijuana crimes, and has been advocating for the Obama administration to stay away from legalization as an official position, even after President Obama was quoted in the New Yorker as saying marijuana is safer than alcohol.

If Biden enters the race, it could be bad news for marijuana reformers everywhere. Biden only has a shot at winning the nomination by pulling from Clinton’s base of support, which is where the institutional money and political power is currently placing their bets in hopes of dousing any chance at a Sanders’ presidency.

This is why the marijuana community must fall behind Bernie Sanders and help him get the Democratic nomination. Now that we have seen the first few states achieve legalization, and with many more around the corner, it is time to move the conversation from legalization to equalization.

Bernie has said that he’ll continue to flesh out his position in the coming months, and I look forward to seeing what his campaign comes up with. Here are some concrete examples of actions we need him to take as a Senator, which would help solidify our community’s support in his campaign for President.

I believe that with enough organizing that the marijuana reform movement can get Sanders to move on these legislative priorities, and bring much needed attention to the legal hurdles that face cannabis businesses at the national level. The cannabis industry is the fastest growing industry in the U.S., but remains frozen out of banking and is taxed at higher levels than any other sector of our economy. This creates a significant public safety issue, and stifles the creation of thousands of living wage jobs at a time when too many Americans are without work.

So let’s get to work.

There are three ways that we as marijuana activists can make our presence known to the Sanders campaign in a way that is both helpful to the campaign and to our movement.

Social Media:

This is how Bernie’s campaign has managed to gain as much traction as it already has. The power of the internet as a organizing tool is still underestimated by the traditional political/media power structures. Each one of us is our own media network and we have the ability to inform those around us, without having to rely on corporate media.

Like, comment and share any pro-Bernie stuff coming up in your Facebook news feed, this helps the content be seen by more people in your extended network. Be sure to “like” his Facebook page, and participate in the conversation on there as well.

Follow @BernieSanders on Twitter and retweet his tweets that talk mention marijuana or criminal justice reform, like these:

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Follow @BernieSanders on Instagram and comment on the pictures his campaign posts, thanking him for talking about marijuana on that campaign trail. This can help to spark a conversation among other followers of his account. He is also on Periscope quite often, which is another great place to interact with his campaign.

Also, please like the Cannabis Advocates for Bernie Facebook page. This will be a great resource for our community to organize around.

Don’t forget to share this article on all our social networks, using the hashtags #YesHeCann and #FeelTheBern

Volunteering:

A grassroots campaign like Bernie’s is dependent on their volunteer staff. I think the grassroots, underdog nature of the Sanders’ campaign lends itself well to marijuana activists who are used to doing a lot with very little.

As a community we should be actively involved in volunteering in this campaign. Do you live in one of the early primary states like Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina?

None of those states currently have legal marijuana, but you could make a difference by volunteering with the campaign and talking to the other volunteers about why you support Bernie. One of the best things we can do as a community is to start to assimilate into other non-cannabis groups. Show the public that you are a regular voter and that you support marijuana legalization.

If you want to sign up to volunteer, do so here.

Donate:

Simply put, Bernie Sanders is not being bankrolled by big money in this campaign. He is completely dependent on small contributions, with over 300,000 people giving an average of around $31.

In an age of big money dominating our political system, the only way his campaign is able to withstand the onslaught of campaign spending from his opponents is with the help of ordinary people like us.

If you can afford it, send him a little something. You can donate online here, or you can mail a check to his campaign at:

Bernie 2016
PO Box 905
Burlington, Vermont 05402

If his campaign received a couple thousand small donations via snail mail with hand written notes about your support for his campaign due to his stance on marijuana, you can guarantee that they will be paying attention.

The marijuana reform movement has been slowly gaining political credibility over the last few years, but if we could help put a candidate into the White House, there would be no doubt that 2016 will be tipping point for marijuana legalization nationwide.

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87 Comments

  1. You want a candidate that backs both Industrial Hemp, cannabis legalization with home grow rights, you need to look at http://jlmealer.com (US Senate)

    Bernie talks the talk, but does not walk it… His donors are as follows (per the FEC). Sanders
    gets his money from corporate sponsors employees like the other
    candidates. The lie of no Corp sponsors seems to fool a lot of people
    and they never fact check:

    Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union $105,000 $0 $105,000
    Teamsters Union $93,700 $700 $93,000
    National Education Assn $89,242 $8,242 $81,000
    United Auto Workers $79,750 $850 $78,900
    United Food & Commercial Workers Union $72,500 $0 $72,500
    Communications Workers of America $68,000 $1,500 $66,500
    Laborers Union $64,000 $0 $64,000
    Carpenters & Joiners Union $62,000 $0 $62,000
    National Assn of Letter Carriers $61,000 $0 $61,000
    American Assn for Justice $60,500 $500 $60,000
    American Fedn of St/Cnty/Munic Employees $58,198 $1,200 $56,998
    Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $53,100 $100 $53,000
    United Transportation Union $48,500 $0 $48,500
    Sheet Metal Workers Union $47,000 $0 $47,000
    Operating Engineers Union $46,100 $0 $46,100
    Service Employees International Union $44,014 $5,750 $38,264
    UNITE HERE $42,875 $3,250 $39,625
    United Steelworkers $41,750 $750 $41,000
    American Postal Workers Union $37,700 $0 $37,700
    American Federation of Teachers $36,112 $745 $35,367

    Don’t be fooled.

  2. 1.50 under Bush? Put down the crack pipe, you fucking loser. The price went down pretty low after he crashed the fucking economy. That’s no trick. But before the crash, I was paying 4.20. I even took a picture! It averaged over 3 a gallon for most of his second term.

    “Bush’s tax cuts were across the board.”

    Yeah, almost all to the rich.

  3. I don’t have any Messiahs. And I certainly hold the people I elect up to scrutiny.

    But I know who’s worse, and after 8 years of Dick Cheney’s torture chambers, I’ll vote for Democrats all the fucking time if it keeps the GOP out of power.

    You, apparently, have no problem with Republicans, though… do you?

  4. Yeah, that one. The one Clinton DIDN’t lie us into. The one a majority of Democrats in congress voted against. The one the rest have apologized for. The one Willard Romney wanted to continue?

    ” their loan policies that caused the recession”

    Complete bullshit. Trying to loan minorities money to buy houses was BIPARTISAN, and it was the fraud committed by the mortgage companies that is mostly to blame. But the bigger fact is that the Wall Street crap paper that was getting stamped AAA was worth about 30 times more than the underlying mortgages.

    Further, the bubble, and the crap paper, could all have been stopped, if we didn’t have Greenspan and Bush literally mocking anyone who called it a bubble.

    Hell, if you really wanted to be accurate, the capital imbalance that started the bubble was the Committee to Save the World which, while Clinton was President, screwed up the east Asia crisis.

    Also, if Obama fought tooth and nail to expand the Iraq war, then why does he catch so much shit from your neocon buddies in the GOP for leaving?

    And, again, where is the guy you voted for? What has he done to stop the neocons you love so much that you won’t vote for the people who can actually win elections and keep them out of power?

  5. Bombing more countries doesn’t mean killing more people. Or torturing them. Especially after lying us into the war.

    But, again, we had TWO choices, chump. I know I voted for the one that would give me less of the shit you supposedly want less of.

  6. Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Pakistan and his expansion of the Afghanistan War. Boots on the ground in Afghanistan are all gone now. No boots in those other places, and certainly a lot less boots on the ground than Bush left.

    And, again, our alternative was Willard the neocon Romney. Do you have any idea what people he had around him? How much Dan Senor et al wanted to invade Iran? Do you always let the perfect be the enemy of the good?

    “Maybe you should try actually paying attention to reality.”

    Maybe you should, like the reality of TWO CHOICES FOR PRESIDENT, and Republicans being much worse on all these things you supposedly care about. If you care so much about them, why do you only bitch at the people who voted for less of that shit?

  7. All lies. You’re a piece of shit. Not one link to anything. Not one bit of truth in the whole line of Glibertarian nonsense.

    No wonder you freaks only get 1% of the vote.

  8. ” expand the drug war, surveillance state and War on Terror”

    That same bullshit again…. Two can play at this game…

    For president, Romney would have been worse.

    In congress:

    70% of Democrats voted against renewing the Patriot Act, only 14% of Republicans did.
    91% of Dems voted for keeping the DEA out of medicinal programs, only 22% of Republicans did.
    94% of Democrats voted to keep the feds out of pot banking, only 20% of Republicans did.

  9. “Oversaw the DOJ that imprisoned more people for nonviolent drug crimes than all of his predecessors combined”

    That’s three times today you’ve spewed this bullshit without backing it up.

    And that’s three times you haven’t shown me that Romney would be better.

    ” it’s not like Bernie is campaigning on a platform of putting the government in control of every facet of our lives, or anything.”

    You’re right. He’s not. I addressed this bullshit above as well. But I’m thinking you don’t really care about facts.

    “Democrat anti-drug attitudes, their need to spy on people and collect private data”

    Swing and a miss. You’re out.

    70% of Democrats voted against renewing the Patriot Act, only 14% of Republicans did.
    91% of Dems voted for keeping the DEA out of medicinal programs, only 22% of Republicans did.
    94% of Democrats voted to keep the feds out of pot banking, only 20% of Republicans did.

    “government monopoly over health could possibly entail”

    Bernie and I support Medicare for all. You want to call that a monopoly, go ahead, but it’s not accurate. Like you care about accuracy. Medicare is a single payer. But lots of private entities, including drug companies, hospitals, clinics, etc all still exist and compete. The only thing we lose is an expensive and unnecessary layer of BS called insurance companies.

    Now I’m about sick of schooling you, son. Let me know when you’re coming up to call me a Nazi to my face. I’ll make sure there’s some cold beer for you.

  10. You’re a liar. I provided links in the comment being held above. Just google it. He supports comprehensive reform. He supports the dream act. He supports a pathway to citizenship. There are no elected federal officials who support open borders.

  11. I won’t ignore the fact that you never have any facts to back up your bullshit.

    Obama is certainly not the biggest drug warrior. Were you even alive when Reagan was punching hippies?

    We had a choice between Willard “What’s Hemp?” Romney and Obama. We all know which of those two is the lesser of evils.

    You think Romney would have allowed more research, ordered more federal pot grown for the research, left states that have legalized alone, signed the bills that contained the amendments that vast majorities of Democrats voted for that keep the DEA out of medicinal programs, or allows pot banking? You think Romney would have commuted ANY sentences for drug offenders? Think Romney would be talking about treating drug addiction as a medical condition instead of a criminal one?

    Where’s your choice for President? What has he done lately to change the system?

  12. We will have succeeded in moving our party, and our eventual nominee, to the left in order to do some good in this country.

    What do you do? Sit around your Glibertarian Treehouse headquarters and cry on your poker chips?

  13. “our” taxes? You mean you and your fellow rich Glibertarian friends? Because he sure isn’t going to raise my taxes.

    But you sure do seem scared of the guy for some reason.

  14. Here’s a preview of my comment that’s being held, probably because I include citations to back up what I say.

    “Democratic Socialism is any oxymoron”

    No, it’s not any oxymoron. The term has been around as a political science term for a long time. It has a meaning. We use it to describe countries like:

    1 Denmark
    3 New Zealand
    5 Sweden
    6 Canada
    7 Norway
    10 Finland
    11 Netherlands
    12 Belgium

    BTW, those numbers are their rankings in the Forbes best countries to do business in list.

    Look it up, if you care about the truth, which I’m pretty certain you don’t.

    ” there’s no such thing as military or corporate welfare”

    Typical idiot Glibertarian. Where do they brainwash you people?

    Lets see…. how about I use a favorite Glibertarian think tank (CATO) as my source?

    > policymakers should find and eliminate wasteful, damaging, and unneeded programs in the federal budget. One good way to save money would be to cut subsidies to businesses. Corporate welfare in the federal budget costs taxpayers almost $100 billion a year.

    Google it. If I link to it, then you don’t get your medicine as fast.

    And Mr. DeHaven is probably underestimating. As for military welfare, well, we have weapons systems that do nothing but pad the bottom line of defense contractors. The Pentagon loses billions every year. If the money just goes off to someone who didn’t work for it, then…. by your own definition…

    Now run along, wingnut, to your 1% of the voting public.

  15. You’re a liar. As mayor of Burlington, Bernie decriminalized weed. IN the 70’s.

    “who has overseen the arrest of more people for marijuana use than every one of his predecessors combined”

    You love to say shit, but you can’t back it up. It’s very telling. Show me a source. I’ll even read a Reason Magazine pile of stinking crap.

    ” the poison is definitely Government”

    You Glibertarian motherfuckers are even worse than Republicans. What would you do? Let every locality decide everything? Replace cops with your buddies with guns? Get rid of judges, trials, the whole criminal justice system, and just have your little group of local thugs decide what the laws are, who’s guilty of breaking them, and execute their asses right on the spot?

    You think that the anarchy of no government is more freedom than having our rights protected by a government? I need a government to protect me from people like you who would just let corporations cost shift their negative externalities on the rest of us. And you call that a free market? You call that fair?

    Read the Leviathan, Glibby.

    > Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time or war where every man is enemy to every man, the same is consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and, which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

  16. I have a comment for your ignorant lying ass in moderation. I took the F word out just for you.

    I’ll give you a preview: come up here and call me and Bernie Sanders a Nazi to my face, you liar. I don’t hide behind a fake identity like a scared little girl.

  17. ” expanded all of those policies you incorrectly lay solely at the feet of Bush”

    If Obama expanded them, then they must have already existed… Like, the Patriot Act. I disagree with the President on the Patriot Act, and on the drone war. What’s interesting, though, is that you fuckers think he’s worse than Bush. Quite a stretch there, considering that Obama didn’t have Dick Cheney pulling the strings, lying us into a $2 trillion war that maimed and killed millions. Obama didn’t create the Patriot Act. And Obama didn’t ignore warnings about the biggest terrorist attack on the US in history.

    And not once did I suggest that anyone is a racist. It’s true that all the racists migrated to the Republican party after LBJ signed the civil rights act. But that doesn’t mean all Republicans, or even anyone who disagrees with Obama, is a racist. As I said, I disagree with Obama on many things–mostly those things on which he is to my right. Trade pacts, civil liberties, war…

    “Democratic Socialist” is an oxymoron

    Wrong again. The term has been around as a political science term for a long time. It has a meaning. We use it to describe countries like:

    1 Denmark
    3 New Zealand
    5 Sweden
    6 Canada
    7 Norway
    10 Finland
    11 Netherlands
    12 Belgium

    BTW, those numbers are their rankings in the Forbes best countries to do business in list.

    http://www.forbes.com/best-countries-for-business/list

    “his abject hatred of immigration and open borders”

    I don’t have to look up his record on immigration to know that you’re a fucking liar when you say he has an abject hatred of immigration.Do you support open borders? Name one elected national official who does.

    Bernie supports comprehensive immigration reform, the dream act, and a path to citizen ship.

    Don’t believe me?

    https://berniesanders.com/issues/fair-and-humane-immigration-policy/

    Or, if you prefer someone other than the horse’s mouth:

    http://www.epi.org/blog/bernie-sanders-is-correct-on-immigration/

    “But then, you asshole Socialists have a renowned penchant for building walls and shooting anyone trying to enter or escape.”

    You lie about what democratic Socialists believe in order to call us Nazis. Come call me a Nazi to my face. I’m not a chicken shit hiding behind a fake name.

    Bernie Sanders is about as far from a fucking Nazi as one can get. Here, go read the characteristics of fascism and tell come back here and call him a Nazi. And take a good look at the fucking Republicans after you read that list.

    http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm

    When it came time to vote for a President, we had two choices. You might not like the choices, but when it comes to getting a President in this country, you have to join a coalition. I happen to be on the side that has a very large contingent of peace loving, civil liberties loving, civil RIGHTS loving progressives who are Democrats. Not all Democrats are like that, especially the ones that get elected President. Because when we run a dirty fucking hippie like Bernie Sanders as our nominee we get our asses kicked because FOR SOME FUCKING STUPID ASS REASON a bunch of people who try to sound like they hate totalitarian fascists sons of bitches vote for them anyway.

    And the other guy running was surrounded by a bunch of Cheney neocons just itching to send my kid over to Tehran–lying us into yet another land war in Asia. He wanted to put his small government in women’s uteri. He wanted all kinds of right wing, fascist, civil liberties violations that make what Obama’s doing look like child’s play.

    So who’d you vote for?

  18. It should say, “I voted for more government control over my life, and all I got was more of the War on Drugs”.

    That would’ve been really apropos for Barack “Biggest Drug Warrior Ever” Obama.

  19. Tell us again how true prosperity lie in the government stealing everything we make, and using it to control every facet of our lives in the name of “regulation”.

  20. Probably because you don’t work for a living. Bush’s tax cuts were across the board. That fact doesn’t change just because you feign ignorance.

    And, as I’m sure you know, the President doesn’t control gas prices. But if he did, The steady 3.50 prices under Obama are far more damning than the 1.50 under Bush. But you clearly wouldn’t know, being 15 and so stupid you think the government stealing your money is “giving back”.

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