Bernie Sanders supported marijuana policy reform way before it became popular. Back when he was running for president in 2016, the Vermont senator made history by supporting marijuana legalization. Since then, Sanders has continued to advocate for ending the War on Drugs. Furthermore, he has petitioned the federal government for policy changes and worked to reevaluate marijuana’s Schedule I classification. In his latest pro-marijuana move, Bernie Sanders announces he will co-sponsor Marijuana Justice Act. Here’s a closer look at the proposed marijuana policy and its growing political support.
The Marijuana Justice Act
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker introduced the bill back in August. Since then, Representatives Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna have co-sponsored the House version of the Marijuana Justice Act. According to Marijuana Majority leader Tom Angell, “This is the single most far-reaching marijuana bill that’s ever been filed in either chamber of Congress.”
The act has four major components: It would legalize marijuana on the federal level, retroactively clear all marijuana-related federal convictions, allocate $500 million for job training in communities affected by the War on Drugs and cut law enforcement funding for states that arrest a disproportionate number of people of color.
The Act’s Co-Sponsors
Many other Democrats have stepped up to support the Marijuana Justice Act. To date, twenty-seven legislators are co-sponsoring the bill. Senior Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon was the first senator to co-sponsor the act after Senator Booker introduced it.
In February, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand also announced her support. Senator Gillibrand has repeatedly spoken out against Sessions’ marijuana crackdown, tweeting that [Sessions] is “either willfully ignorant or cowing to corporate greed on behalf of pharma special interest profits.”
Advocates for marijuana legalization are hoping that the Democratic Party will work together to make lasting policy reform. NORML political director Justin Strekal told Forbes, “With Senator Sanders co-sponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act alongside Senators Booker and Gillibrand, it’s time for the party to speak with one voice that they will legalize marijuana and expunge the criminal convictions of the millions who are being held back from achieving both employment and the American dream.”
Senator Sanders Has A History of Supporting Legalization
Bernie Sanders announces he will co-sponsor Marijuana Justice Act after years of work on marijuana policy. Years ago, Sen. Sanders introduced the first Senate bill to reschedule marijuana. This legislation also would have stopped private companies from running jails.
Sanders has been a longtime advocate for prison reform, and through it, marijuana policy change. When he ran for President, the Senator became the first serious candidate who said he would vote in favor of legalization.
Sanders has continued to champion legalization in 2018. Earlier this year, the Senator asked those who supported him in his presidential run to petition Congress. Sanders wrote in his mass email: “Marijuana prohibition is part of a larger failed war on drugs that has led to the great national crisis of mass incarceration.”
Final Hit: Bernie Sanders Announces He Will Co-Sponsor Marijuana Justice Act
Sanders has a long record of advocating for prison reform. Thus, the Senator’s co-sponsorship of the Marijuana Justice Act comes as no surprise to his loyal constituents. This does not make the bill’s growing support any less significant. Not only would the Marijuana Justice Act legalize marijuana nationally, but it would help undo decades of racial policing.