Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act Wednesday—a bill that would (you guessed it) end the federal prohibition of marijuana—further solidifying himself as the most cannabis-friendly candidate on the docket.
If passed, the Senate bill would officially remove marijuana from the DEA’s list of “most dangerous drugs” and eliminate weed from the Controlled Substances Act, officially permitting states to decide their own laws on legalization with the promise of no federal intervention. (Right now, it’s an administration-to-administration decision, kind of like a gentleman’s agreement. This would make it a legal certainty.)
While the hype behind this bill is bigger than what we’ve seen before on the federal level thanks to Sanders’ candidacy for president, it’s not the first of its kind. Bernie’s bill is modeled after the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, introduced to senate in 2013 by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO).
While that bill failed to pass, national public opinion on marijuana legalization has shifted to the majority being in favor, as long-time prohibitionist arguments (gateway drug, anyone?) are proven false time and again and the obvious benefits of legalization—namely financial—are observed in legalized states like Colorado and Oregon. To put it plainly, Bernie’s bill may actually have a shot.
“Just as alcohol prohibition failed in the 1920s, it’s clear marijuana prohibition is failing today,” Sen. Polis said. “For decades the federal ban on marijuana has wasted tax dollars, impeded our criminal justice system, lined the pockets of drug cartels, and trampled on states’ ability to set their own public health laws.”
Bernie has been an outspoken advocate of legalization, especially as how it would aid the undeniable issue of the U.S. criminal justice system. Last week he proposed the reclassification of marijuana, as labeling it as Schedule 1 alongside heroin, meth, and crack is simply illogical.
“In the United States we have 2.2 million people in jail today, more than any other country,” Sanders said. “And we’re spending about $80 billion a year to lock people up. We need major changes in our criminal justice system, including changes in drug laws.”
Unlike some politicians I know (*cough*, Hillary, *cough*, Donald) who pander to public opinion and either refuse to take a firm stance or take a stance they clearly don’t believe in, Bernie is 100% clear. He believes in the legalization of marijuana, which makes us believe in him.
“Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use,” Sanders said. “That’s wrong. That has got to change.”