Bernie Sanders Promises Marijuana Legalization by Executive Order
Marijuana legalization has overwhelming support from both the public and most Democratic candidates. Ironically, the frontrunner – Joe Biden – is the only person who wants to stop at decriminalization.
However, Bernie Sanders – who lost by a hair to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primaries – hopes to gain some points by taking the hardest pro-marijuana stance of all his colleagues.
Sanders’s record on marijuana has been consistent and firm. According to Newsweek, Sanders was the first and only presidential candidate in 2016 who openly endorsed marijuana legalization.
In 2015, before he even ran for president, Sanders introduced his own bill to take marijuana off of the list of controlled substances. At the time, however, nobody stepped up to sponsor the bill with him.
Part of a Broader Picture
What makes Sanders’s approach to legalization interesting is that he does not rely on arguments related to increased revenue or even job creation. Instead, he points out the social benefits. This is hardly surprising, as his platform and politics are heavily focused on social reforms.
“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.”
Another lesser-known fact is that the butting of heads between state and federal governments does not end at prosecution and enforcement. Joe Rogan of The Joe Rogan Experience Podcast pointed out in an interview with Sanders that certain federally-approved pesticides threaten the quality and safety of legal cannabis.
Sanders also reminds us of an alarming worldwide statistic. The United States has the biggest incarceration rate out of any country. Marijuana legalization would certainly take a bite out of that statistic.
The presidential hopeful also wants to see some of the expungement initiatives in legal states taken to a federal level, stating”
“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.”
Marijuana’s Current Scheduling is “Insane”
Bernie Sanders is quick to point out that marijuana’s current place in the Controlled Substances Act puts it in the same category as much deadlier and more destructive drugs. He says to Rogan:
“That is insane. Heroin is a killer drug. 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.”
Not a Foolproof Plan
Promising to use an executive order is no small statement. It is arguably the most powerful tool a president will have in their arsenal.
It is important to note, however, that an executive order is not final. The order must be within the president’s scope of authority. If the federal courts or Congress deem marijuana legalization to be beyond that scope, Sanders’s executive order fails.
This of course is a failsafe to prevent presidents from exercising dictatorial powers. But it can also get bogged down in political and legal obstacles.
Chances are, the order will meet strong resistance from certain groups, like law enforcement and anti-marijuana advocates. Still, it is likely to be the strongest push to get legalization moving.
WeedAdvisor’s Support for Decisive Action
Although WeedAdvisor endorses Sanders’s decisive approach to marijuana reform, we prefer to avoid expressing support or opposition to any party or ideology. Marijuana legalization is an issue that should not be bogged down by partisan politics, so our views on Sanders are simply based on this one issue.
We respect any politician who is willing to take a strong public stance on marijuana reform.