Many marijuana activists have been waiting for Bernie Sanders to talk more about his stance on marijuana policy. I know I have been. We all know that he is more progressive on marijuana policy than most, and has made many comments about non-legalization policy issues, but has yet to come out with a fully endorsed plan for legalization. Bernie Sanders recently did an interview on public television on a show called Little Village. During the interview Bernie Sanders was specifically asked about marijuana policy, and had the following to say, via Raw Story:
One of the things that hasn’t been spoken about a great deal so far in the race for 2016, is the decriminalization of marijuana, said Walker. “Do you have a policy position on that?” he asked Sanders.
“My home state of Vermont has decriminalized marijuana and I support that,” the senator said. “In other words, if you are possessing a small amount of marijuana it should not be a criminal offense, it will be civil, and you might have to pay a fine on that.”
“I support marijuana use for medical purposes,” Sanders continued, “and we’re exploring the pluses and minuses — of which there are both — of moving more aggressively on that issue.”
“Do you believe that it is the purview of the federal government to legislate the criminalization of marijuana?” Walker asked.
“What the federal government can do is say to the state of Colorado that if you choose to vote to legalize marijuana, we will allow you to do that without restrictions,” said Sanders.
“As I understand it,” he said, “in Colorado, people who run marijuana shops can’t put their money in banks, for example. That’s a violation of federal law. So I think there are things that the federal government can do that would make it easier for states that want to go in that direction to be able to do so.”
“Would you be in favor of having the federal government be more active in moving in that direction?” Walker said.
“That’s something we’ll have more to say about,” said Sanders. “It’s a very good question and it’s a fair question. Let me not jump on what I want to be more thoughtful about in the coming weeks and months.”
I know that a lot of people are wanting Bernie Sanders to just get on with the legalization plan already, but I think that in the grand scheme of things Bernie Sanders is going about it the right way. As I said in a previous article, if he just says ‘legalize it,’ many swing voters will not take his policy position seriously since ‘legalization’ is such a trigger word to so many people. But if he gets everyone on the record as supporting no brainer things like criminal justice reform, racial justice reform, income inequality reform, and many other issues, then he can say ‘now that we can agree that we all support those things, there is one common public policy issue that is found in all of those things – ending cannabis prohibition.’ I think that approach will be much more effective in the long run, and I think so does Bernie Sanders and his campaign, which is why he made the last comment listed in the quotes above. What do TWB readers think? Below is video of the interview: