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Bernie Sanders Co-Sponsors Marijuana Justice Act to End Federal Prohibition

2016’s dark horse presidential candidate is joining Sen. Cory Booker in support of a far-reaching bill for federal cannabis reform.

by Zach Harris

Photo via Michael Vadon

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders put his official support behind Congress’ most ambitious bill for cannabis reform today, as the expected 2020 presidential hopeful signed on as a co-sponsor to the Marijuana Justice Act.

According to Forbes, Sen. Sanders signaled his intentions to co-sponsor the bill on Wednesday, announcing his official signature in a Facebook Live video alongside Marijuana Justice Act author, Sen. Cory Booker.

“I think, while some aspects of the issue are complicated, some are not,” Sen. Sanders said during Thursday’s announcement. “Nobody I know thinks that it makes any sense at all that under the federal Controlled Substance Act, you have marijuana alongside heroin. Very few people think that makes sense. Prohibition didn’t work in the 1920s, and it’s not going to work now.”

In 2016, Sanders turned into a household name while challenging Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. By embracing tenants of democratic socialism and a strong focus on social justice, Sanders amassed huge amounts of support from young people. In addition to his plans to progressively tax the rich and offer college education for free, Sanders expressed support for cannabis legalization repeatedly throughout his campaign.

Now, with the 2020 presidential election inching closer everyday, and Sen. Sanders anticipated once again to try his hand at the nation’s highest office, the Vermont lawmaker has joined his one of presumed Democratic primary competitors as a face of the Senate’s most progressive cannabis reform legislation.

Introduced by Sen. Booker in August of last year, the Marijuana Justice Act would, if passed, not only legalize marijuana for adult use and sale on a federal level, but also punish states that continue to allow racially-biased policing practices around pot by withholding funding for law enforcement.

With Sanders now on board in support of the legislation, the Marijuana Justice Act has been co-sponsored by all three of the leading Democrats predicted by pundits to challenge Donald Trump for the presidency in 2020. In addition to Senators Sanders and Booker, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has also added her signature in support of the cannabis reform bill.

But even with Sanders and Booker expected to go head-to-head to win the Democratic nomination in two years’ time, the two Senators appeared as colleagues in Thursday’s Facebook Live announcement, expressing a common goal in the fight to end marijuana prohibition.

“We have marijuana legalization already for people that are privileged,” Sen. Booker said during Thursday’s announcement. “But if you’re a teenager who’s poor or from an inner city community, you’re going to get a much different judicial system. And you’re going to be tagged with a life sentence. It may be a short time in prison, but it can destabilize your entire life.”

With his signature today, Senator Sanders becomes the third co-sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act, joining Sen. Gillibrand and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden.


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Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.



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