Senator Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill To Legalize Pot

By McCarton Ackerman 11/05/15

The presidential hopeful has been hammering away at the drug war.

Senator Bernie Sanders

A proposed bill put forth by Bernie Sanders has made him the first presidential candidate in history from a major political party to propose opening the door to full legalization of marijuana nationwide.

Introduced on Wednesday, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act would remove all barriers for states that want to legalize marijuana for either marijuana or recreational purposes. It would also decriminalize marijuana use at the federal level. Although it’s highly unlikely the bill will pass through the Senate, simply putting it forward could make him more appealing to younger voters as he seeks the Democratic nomination.

"Sen. Sanders is simply proposing that we treat marijuana similarly to how we treat alcohol at the federal level, leaving most of the details to the states,” said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project.

Sanders has remained arguably the biggest advocate among frontrunner presidential candidates for ending the War on Drugs. He told TIME magazine last year that current U.S. drug policy has led to a “huge cost and the destruction of a whole lot of lives of people who were never involved in any violent activities."

Speaking last week at George Mason University, he said the fact that more than 600,000 marijuana possession arrests were made in the United States last year is a clear indication that the country’s drug policies need to change.

"Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use," he said last month. "That's wrong. That has got to change. It is time to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. It is time to end the arrests of so many people and the destruction of so many lives for possessing marijuana."

The senator from Vermont has also vowed that, if elected, he would remove marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse with no accepted medical benefits, and allow businesses in legal marijuana states to use the banking system without fear of prosecution. He would also allow states to regulate marijuana in a manner similar to tobacco and alcohol.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.