Bernie Sanders announced his support for the legalization of marijuana at the federal level in a town hall with students from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, on Wednesday. Under the Sanders proposal, it will fall to individual states and not the Drug Enforcement Administration to regulate cannabis for both recreational and medical use.
Sanders' stance is more lenient than other Democratic presidential candidates. Martin O'Malley has suggested loosening marijuana restrictions and removing it from the list of substances that have no medically accepted use and "high potential for abuse." Marijuana's current classification has limited the ability of scientists to research the effects of the drug.
The debate over marijuana legalization resulted in one of the most confrontational moments of the second GOP debate, during which Rand Paul took both Chris Christie and Jeb Bush to task for their positions on marijuana decriminalization. Calling Jeb Bush out for hypocrisy, Paul pointed out that Bush has admitted to smoking pot as a teenager. "Kids who had privilege, like you do, don’t go to jail, but the poor kids in our inner cities go to jail," Paul said.
Sanders echoed those statements on Wednesday. “Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use,” he said. “That’s wrong. That has got to change.”