Bernie Sanders Just Introduced A New Bill That Could Legalize Pot

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images.
Politicians make plenty of promises, but it's much less common that they actually follow through on them. Last month, Vermont senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he would take steps to remove marijuana from the federal government's list of dangerous drugs. This week, he delivered.

On Wednesday, Sanders introduced a bill — called the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act — to the U.S. Senate. If passed, the bill would revoke marijuana's status as a Schedule 1 narcotic. Currently, marijuana holds that title along with controlled substances that include heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy.

The bill would also allow states to set their own laws. However, it would still be illegal to traffic marijuana across state lines to places where prohibitions remain in place.
"In my view, the time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana," Sanders said at a town hall last week that livestreamed to nearly 300 college campuses across the country. "In my view, states should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern sales of alcohol and tobacco."
Sanders' call to end marijuana bans is matched by a growing public and political shift toward cannabis regulation. Since 2001, marijuana use in the U.S. has doubled. Currently, four states — Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon, as well as Washington, DC — have already legalized recreational use of pot, while more states allow for some degree of legal use for medical purposes.

As for Sanders' Democratic presidential campaign opponent, frontrunner Hillary Clinton has yet to take a position on marijuana legalization. Instead, Clinton has said she wants to see how legalization plays out in states like Colorado before making changes at the federal level. In the past, Clinton has referred to marijuana as a "gateway drug," according to CNN, adding that there "can't be a total absence of law enforcement" regarding its regulation.

Sanders' bill is the first to push for an end of federal pot prohibition in the Senate, according to pro-legalization groups. And it's in line with his new campaign efforts to push for criminal-justice reform.

"Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use," Sanders said last month. "That's wrong. That has got to change."

For pot advocates, this might be a good enough reason to #FeelTheBern in 2016.

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