Bernie Sanders Says He Would Legalize Pot During Debate

By May Wilkerson 10/14/15

Sanders drew a stark contrast between himself and Hillary Clinton on the issue.

Bernie Sanders

Last night’s Democratic presidential debate saw five candidates take on a whole range of issues, from abortion to the drug war to the tired subject of Hillary Clinton’s emails. Bernie Sanders, viewed as the most progressive of the candidates, didn’t disappoint the drug war reformers who have mobilized behind his campaign.

When asked if he would vote for marijuana legalization if he were a Nevada resident, the Vermont Senator gave an affirmative yes. “I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country, too many lives being destroyed for nonviolent offenses,” he said. “We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people for smoking marijuana.”

Sanders went on to slam the War on Drugs and call for criminal justice reform. “I think we have to think through this War on Drugs which has done an enormous amount of damage,” he said. “We need to rethink our criminal justice system and we have a lot of work to do in that area.”

Hillary Clinton, who has sidestepped the issue of marijuana legalization so far in her campaign, was then asked whether she was ready to take a position on pot. The former Secretary of State said emphatically, “No.” However, she did say she is in favor of medical marijuana and criminal justice reform. The other candidates, Jim Webb, Lincoln Chafee, and Martin O’Malley were not asked about their positions on marijuana.

The issue also came up earlier in the night, when debate moderator Anderson Cooper announced that marijuana would be discussed after a commercial break. “Some of the candidates have tried marijuana, as has probably everybody in this room,” he joked, eliciting applause.

Check out Bernie's statement at last night's debate:

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.