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Bernie Sanders Promises to Legalize Marijuana In First 100 Days if Elected President

Bernie Sanders Marijuana Plan

Presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) released a plan to legalize marijuana and protect the cannabis industry from Big Tobacco.

Bernie Sanders wants to use executive action to immediately legalize marijuana in the United States. The Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate released his presidential plan of action for marijuana last week, calling the current federal classification of cannabis, which is the same as heroin, “idiotic.”

“As president I will immediately issue an executive order to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance,” Sanders stated in an Oct. 24 tweet.

The 2020 presidential hopeful pledges to legalize marijuana within the first 100 days of taking office. He also plans to expunge and vacate past marijuana-related convictions and ensure all revenues from legal cannabis will be used to reinvest in the communities most impacted by harsh cannabis convictions.

“We must legalize marijuana, but that is not all. We will also ensure that revenue from legal marijuana is reinvested in communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs, especially African-American and other communities of color,” Sanders stated in an Oct. 25 tweet.

Banning Big Tobacco

The four key points Sanders focussd on within his cannabis legalization plan are not unlike the plans of other presidential candidates, including those proposed by former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development Julián Castro, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Mayor Paul Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and Sen. Kamala Harris (CA). Those key points include: 1) legalizing cannabis, 2) expunging past convictions, and 3) prioritizing cannabis revenue to create economic growth in communities of color.

The one standout component to Sanders’ plan compared to those from the other presidential candidates is that it ensures the cannabis industry doesn’t become the next Big Tobacco.

The following are highlights of Sanders’ plan to protect the legal cannabis industry from Big Tobacco and consolidation:

  • Bars tobacco/cigarette corporations from entering the cannabis industry.
  • Prohibits companies that have created deceptive marketing or cancer-causing products from entering the cannabis industry.
  • Establishes incentives for cannabis businesses to take on similar structures to that of nonprofits.
  • Provides opportunities for the creation of cannabis cooperatives and collective nonprofits to create jobs and economic growth in local communities.
  • Prohibits product targeting of youth.
  • Prevents consolidation and exploitation by establishing market share and franchise caps.

Federal Government Regulation

Another step Sanders wants to take that has not been highlighted in other presidential marijuana proposals is to establish regulation by the federal government. According to Sanders’ plan, the federal government would partner with the U.S Department of Agriculture to “establish safety inspection and quality control processes for growers and producers.”

Sanders has been an avid supporter of cannabis reform for decades. Now that marijuana legalization is favored by a supermajority of Americans and one of the most popular issues among adults, Sanders said legalization is not such a “radical” idea anymore.

“When we said four years ago that we needed to legalize marijuana, it was considered a “radical” idea. Today, 11 states plus DC have legalized it. Not so radical anymore. When we’re in the White House we will do so nationwide,” Sanders stated in an Oct. 24 tweet.

Follow the cannabis campaign trail by visiting our 2020 Presidential Candidates On Marijuana guide.

More on Cannabis

Find out where marijuana is legal and in what capacity through our interactive marijuana legalization map. Want more cannabis news? Visit our news page for the latest reports on cannabis policy, research, and business.