Getting a politician to voice support for marijuana legalization is the new third rail of politics. You get the meandering answer and decide to light up before Wolf Blitzer gets to tell you the current time in ‘I’m gonna have to google that country.’
Pot has replaced Social Security as the ‘don’t touch’ topic in U.S. politics. It’s odd too. Legalization efforts have been met with success in Colorado and Washington. A recent nationwide poll by Gallup has 60% of Americans in support of legalizing marijuana.
But we finally have a presidential candidate willing to go on record in support of marijuana legalization.
Good ole Bernie Sanders. Everyone’s favorite Democratic Socialist. Calm down, it’s not the same as Comrade Sanders.
During the Democratic debate, he voiced his approval of legalization. CNN debate moderator Juan Carlos Lopez framed the question:
“Senator Sanders, right here in Nevada, there will be a measure to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2016 ballot. You’ve said you smoked marijuana twice; it didn’t quite work for you. If you were a Nevada resident, how would you vote?” Senator Sanders responded “I suspect I would vote yes.”
Way to win the crowd. Emails? Who gives a damn? Here ya go Hillary…
He tied his support to the gross injustice served upon non-violent drug offenders and contrasted it with what he considered inaction after the 2008 financial crisis.
“And I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana. I think we have to think through this war on drugs…which has done an enormous amount of damage. We need to rethink our criminal justice system; we’ve got a lot of work to do in that area.”
In addition to his support for marijuana legalization efforts, he saves his ire for the for-profit private prison industry. Sanders introduced a bill in September to ban private prisons.
“We cannot fix our criminal justice system if corporations are allowed to profit from mass incarceration…Keeping human beings in jail for long periods of time must no longer be an acceptable business model in America. We have got to end the private prison racket in America. Our focus should be on treating people with dignity and ensuring they have the resources they need to get back on their feet when they get out.”
While not on board with marijuana legalization, President Obama has recognized the injustice on non-violent drug offenders. He has pledged to continue to use his clemency powers to free more drug offenders before he leaves office.
In some states, out of control sentencing guidelines have people serving life terms for pot possession. Shooting someone gets you less time under certain circumstances.
Advocates for marijuana, both medical and recreational, continue to roll up victories. Hell, even Georgia has legalized cannabis oil for some conditions.
Marijuana legalization is going to happen. Sentiment has changed rapidly with the average American. Congress? They move quickly with bills to spy on Americans or to strip a civil liberty.
The number of states with at least medical marijuana continues to grow. One day it’ll be all 50 and Congress will have the political cover they need to pass a voice vote…
Keep holding their feet to the fire Senator Sanders. You may not win the nomination, but at least you make the nomination process on the left more enjoyable.