Populist candidate Bernie Sanders gave a speech at the end of October to officially announce his support for States’ ability to legalize cannabis.
Previously, the Senator from Vermont took an unofficial stance supporting legalization of cannabis, but he did not believe that it was a major issue. In his speech on Wednesday he illustrated that he understands the major issues cannabis activists are concerned with. While he did not comment on the medicinal benefits of the plant, he looked at the social and economic impact of cannabis and how it is affected by the Federal Government’s prohibition.
First and foremost, he explained how convictions of cannabis possession have ruined too many lives and can lead to a criminal record that will forever haunt those people. He passionately pointed how how “a criminal record can mean not only time in jail, but a criminal record can make it harder for a person to get a job, harder for a person to get public benefits, harder for a person to even get housing. A criminal record stays with a person for his or her life. It is a serious business.”
He called out the fact that cannabis is classified as a Schedule I narcotic, which claims that it is as dangerous as heroin. “That is absurd,” he reasoned.
His last point was that if states that choose to legalize cannabis are able to do so without federal interference, those states could regulate and tax cannabis to earn a substantial amount of money that can help fund education programs as well as fight the effects of substance abuse of hard drugs, as Colorado has already implemented. Those states should also have full access to the American banking system without fear of federal prosecution.
He concluded by declaring, “In the year 2015 it is time for the Federal Government to allow states to go forward as they best choose. It is time to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. It is time to end the arrests of so many people and the destruction of so many lives for possessing marijuana.”