During a marijuana campaign rally in South Carolina, US Senator (I-VT) and presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, asked the audience if any one of them had been arrested for possessing marijuana or knew anyone who had. Dozens of hands shot up.
“Holy God. Whoa…that’s a lot of people. Alright, who wants to tell me what’s happened?” said Sanders. “Give me some of the stories that happened to somebody arrested for possession of marijuana here in South Carolina.”
And the stories began
“I got caught with about a joint and they took my license for a year and I lost my job,” one man said. “Ended up losing my house, and it went worse from there.”
“Wow, this is for smoking a joint?” Sanders asked.
“Yeah, I had a little…like a dime bag in my car,” the man said.
Another woman took the microphone and told the audience that she once visited a guilty plea court and saw “three different men get put in at least two years of prison just for anywhere from two grams to eight grams of marijuana found on them.”
After audience members, who seemed eager to share their life altering experiences of getting caught up in the criminal justice system for miniscule amount of marijuana, Bernie responded.
He argued that such anecdotes demonstrate the case for national legalization of cannabis.
“That’s why all over this country states are doing the right thing and either decriminalizing or legalizing the possession of marijuana,” Sanders said to applause.
Nothing new for Bernie
Sanders’ views on marijuana legalization have been consistent over the years. As senator from Vermont, he maintained a pro-legalization stance as he did even when he was a member of the House of Representatives in the 1990s, when it was uncommon.
Sanders has continued to sponsor pro-legalization bills, the most recent being the Marijuana Justice Act of 2019, which focuses on legalization as a method of criminal justice reform. He also supports the Secure And Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019, which would protect banks that serve cannabis businesses.
Presidential Primary Challenge
And now, as Sanders faces off with a couple of dozen Democratic presidential primary candidates, marijuana legalization remains a major part of his criminal justice reform platform, with a focus on the racial injustices of prohibition.
As stated on his campaign website, Sanders hopes to end the War on Drugs and legalize marijuana.
In national interviews and on social media, Sanders has never shied away from voicing his support for federal cannabis legalization.
Joe Rogan Experience
In a podcast interview with Joe Rogan in mid-August 2019, Sanders discussed a bit about his plan to legalize marijuana:
“You can argue the pluses and minuses of marijuana, but marijuana ain’t heroin. So we have to end [marijuana prohibition] and that’s what I will do,” Sanders said. “As President of the United States, I believe we can do that through executive order, and I will do that.”