Bernie Sanders Pledges to Legalize Marijuana Nationwide via Executive Action

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pauses while speaking at a campaign event, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019, at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. (AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter)
AP Photo/ Cheryl Senter

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Thursday unveiled his proposal to legalize marijuana nationwide at precisely 4:20 p.m. EST — an homage to what has been dubbed “Weed Day.”

While Sanders has already unveiled his plan for criminal justice reform, he specifically tackles marijuana legalization in his latest plan, citing the disproportionate impact its criminalization has had on minority communities.

Several Democrat presidential candidates have pledged to legalize marijuana, but Sanders’ plan expedites the process via an executive order, which he promises within the first 100 days in office, citing a change in public support for such action after 11 states have legalized recreational marijuana.

“While Congress must aggressively move to end the war on drugs and undo its damage, as president Bernie will not wait for Congress to act,” the plan states.

It continues:

Under this plan, not only will Bernie take executive action to legalize marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substance Act, he will expunge past convictions of marijuana related offenses, and ensure that victims of the War on Drugs are not passed over by the burgeoning marijuana industry.

“Today, the government considers marijuana as dangerous as heroin,” Sanders tweeted following his plan’s release. “That’s idiotic.”

“As president I will immediately issue an executive order to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance,” he pledged:

Sanders vows that his administration will “review all marijuana convictions … for expungement and re-sentencing” and expunge all past convictions using the California model. He also promises that the tax revenue generated by legalized marijuana will go directly toward communities “hit hardest by the War on Drugs.”

He plans to use billions in generated revenue to create grant programs aimed to assist minority communities, including the creation of a $20 billion grant program “within the Minority Business Development Agency to provide grants to entrepreneurs of color who continue to face discrimination in access to capital” and another $10 billion grant program that would “focus on businesses that are at least 51% owned or controlled by those in disproportionately impacted areas or individuals who have been arrested for or convicted of marijuana offenses.”

Additionally, Sanders plans to give formerly incarcerated individuals access to free job training “at trade schools and apprenticeship programs related to marijuana businesses.”

The socialist senator’s plan also addresses concerns over the “Big Tobacco” industry, which he ensures will not infiltrate the marijuana market.

“We will provide resources for people to start cooperatives and collective nonprofits as marijuana businesses that will create jobs and economic growth in local communities,” Sanders’ plan states.

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