Sanders Becomes 3rd Senator to Endorse Bill to End U.S. Prohibition on Cannabis

Sanders repeated his criticism on what he described as “Sessions' war on marijuana.” (File image via Reuters)
Sanders repeated his criticism on what he described as “Sessions' war on marijuana.” (File image via Reuters)

Former Democratic presidential nominee Bernie Sanders on Thursday became the third senator to back the Marijuana Justice Act, aimed at ending the federal prohibition on marijuana.

Sen. Cory Booker, introduced his bill in the Senate last year, wrote on Twitter that he was “honored” to see Sen. Sanders backing his bill, which also seeks to “reverse decades of failed drug policy that has disproportionately impacted low-income individuals and people of color.”

In mid-February, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand joined Booker, to be the second lawmaker cosponsoring the bill.

“We are spending $80 billion locking people up. Think about what it would mean if we invested that money in our people instead of more jails,” Sanders wrote in a tweet, attaching a link for people to see his discussion with Booker on the issue on Facebook.

Sanders begins his Facebook discussion by saying that equating marijuana alongside heroin, a deadly drug, “doesn’t make sense.”

He said, “prohibition didn’t work in the 1920s, it won’t work now.” The senator said the U.S. needs to move in the direction of states that are already legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana.

Sanders’ state Vermont in January decriminalized marijuana.

Sanders:

“When you think about last year, 700,000 being rest in possession of marijuana, you are talking about lives being destroyed.”

In response, Booker said: “There are 40,000 collateral consequences, according to the American Bar Association, for people who have drug convictions.” 

“That’s insane,” Sanders replies.

Sanders, who ran as a candidate for the presidential primaries for the Democratic party in 2016, criticizing prohibition is not new.

In early February, he lambasted U.S. Attorney General Sessions over his clampdown on marijuana. In 2015, Sanders also introduced a legislation to end federal ban on marijuana.

Sanders backing Booker is a natural extension of his stance on cannabis.

Observers, meanwhile, say the 76-year-old Sanders could possibly run for president again for 2020. Legalizing marijuana is expected to be a hot topic in the upcoming presidential campaigns as more states move towards legalization. 

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