Senator Bernie Sanders [D-VT] has introduced a bill new bill to the Senate, Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015, would as the title clearly states, end the prohibition on cannabis once and for all.
The presidential hopeful from Vermont has been a consistent advocate for prison reform and ending the War on Drugs, and this bill shows his commitment to the issue. The bill is similar to The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013 that was introduced to the House of Representatives by Representative Jared Polis [D-CO] and is still under discussion and debate.
Sanders’ 2015 bill would remove cannabis from being classified as a Schedule I narcotic and would strike cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. This alone would not fully legalize cannabis across the nation, but would give individual states the ability to vote for legalization without any federal interference and would relieve pressure off of states that have already legalized recreational cannabis. The bill would also make it illegal to transport cannabis across state lines, in a likely move to protect states who do not choose to vote for full legalization of the plant.
About a week ago, Sanders gave a speech in Fairfax, Virginia declaring his support for removing the federal prohibition on cannabis. In his speech, Sanders pointed out “[it] is absurd” that cannabis is classified as a Schedule I narcotic, which claims the plant has no medicinal value and is as dangerous as heroin and cocaine. His introduction of this bill shows that Senator Sanders is not just talking about the end of prohibition, but is putting his politics where his mouth is.
And Senator Sanders is not alone, with a steady increase over the years, in October, a Gallup poll found that 58 per cent of Americans support cannabis legalization.
This is the first time a bill has been introduced in the Senate to end the prohibition on cannabis, but also comes on the heels of the CARERS Act which would transfer cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule II. This would prevent federal banks from discriminating against cannabis businesses and would exclude cannabidiol from the definition of cannabis. The CARERS Act was introduced by Senator Cory Booker [D-NJ] and cosponsored by Senator Rand Paul [R-KY], who is also in the running for president.
The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act would be a comprehensive move to remove the barriers that cannabis businesses and growers currently face, including banking restrictions, a Federal tax code that treats businesses as drug dealers, and the view of the Federal Government that medical patients and recreational users are criminals under federal law.