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.
"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!