Legalizing marijuana has long been part of Bernie Sanders’ policy platform: The Democratic presidential candidate has called for an end to the “destructive ‘war on drugs” as part of his racial justice and criminal justice reform policies—along with eliminating private prisons, the death penalty, cash bail and mandatory minimum sentencing.
But in a recent interview, Sanders got specific, pledging to legalize marijuana by executive order.
“When I ran for president for the Democratic nomination in 2016, I talked about a broken criminal justice system, which ends up having in the United States more people in jail than any other country,” Sanders told Joe Rogan on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast. “And what I call for then, and I call for now, is the legalization of marijuana in America.”
Sanders outlined his plans in response to Rogan pointing out that pesticides and other poor agricultural practices can endanger cannabis consumers in states where it’s currently legal.
“All of this because it’s not federally legal,” Rogan added. “Because we can’t have sanctioned, licensed companies doing an ethical job of growing something that any responsible, law-abiding person should be able to consume.”
Sanders’ approach to marijuana legalization takes aim at the Controlled Substances Act, which puts cannabis in the same Schedule One category as heroin, MDMA and psilocybin.
“That is insane. Heroin is a killer drug,” he said on the episode. “You can argue the plusses and minuses of marijuana, but marijuana ain’t heroin. So we have to end that and that’s what I will do as President of the United States. I believe we can do that through executive order and I will do that.”
First Presidential Candidate to Endorse Cannabis
In 2016, Sanders became the first major presidential candidate to endorse marijuana legalization. That position followed The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015, a Senate bill he authored that would have removed marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.
The bill received no co-sponsors.
“I think ultimately we have got to legalize marijuana, and what’s good news is some communities, some cities, are expunging the records. So if you were arrested [and] have a criminal record for selling marijuana, that is being expunged. And that is the right thing to do,” Sanders told Rogan.
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