Imagining America with Bernie Sanders’ Drug Policy
Bernie Sanders is just what this country's cannabis needs.
Published on February 15, 2016

Bernie Sanders’ campaign is now officially neck and neck with Hilary. Considered by many of us, to be a voice of progress and a champion for a new America. Much of his platform is forward-looking and based on reimagining what Americans should value in the future. To reinforce this outlook, many of his major policies address the redistribution of wealth and the reevaluation of some of the country's long-standing campaigns—with the the War on Drugs being at the top of the list. Bango, Bernie!

Now pay close attention here, his mandates related to the War on Drugs are to treat and rehabilitate non-violent drug offenders rather than imprison them, to prevent large companies from further profiteering off of prisons and to legalize cannabis. If he is elected and this reform is passed by Congress, America would look very different—for the better, we like to think.

As much as Big Bernie is an advocate for policy change, he's also focused on creating a major cultural shift. This is most strongly evidenced by his plan to create treatment facilities for non-violent drug offenders. If implemented correctly, the plan would encourage Americans to be more sympathetic towards those who have fallen victim to drug addiction, regardless of how or why. As Sanders sees it, it takes a community to help someone get back on their feet, and we need to be in the business of creating the infrastructure to make this happen. Duh.

This policy shift is heavily dependent on the acceptance of marijuana use by the mainstream public, which is why Sanders' stance on cannabis is so interesting. Instead of federal legalization, he hopes to end prohibition and let each state legalize independently. This would allow the country to gradually warm up to the idea of legal, readily-available cannabis, rather than let it be a nationwide discussion. Smaller battles are more easily won and will, theoretically, create a more accepting ethos around cannabis. Basically, wait a bit longer for the old folks who think pot is the devil to pass away before pushing a Federal lifting. Plus, states that legalize cannabis will earn more revenue and reduce their spending—making others more inclined to follow suit.

Although Hilary, has supported laws that allow legal access to medical marijuana and has opposed the incarceration of those convicted on marijuana-related charges, she has refrained from discussing specifics about what this would look like at a state level. Boo. Sanders is the only Democratic candidate with a comprehensive vision for how states can take control of this growing industry.

When we imagine Bernie Sanders’ America, it's a progressive and accepting one. Still, unless he's elected, we won't see his vision come to life—though people may be more open to it. What we do know for sure, however, is that his ideas mark a huge shift in perception that could see a very different America in the eyes of its population, as well as the world.

Treatment over punishment and taxation over imprisonment. With this mantra top of mind, Sanders could use his new American values to bring a positive impact to marijuana policy reform. Bernie Sanders for President.

Image: Phil Roeder

MERRY JANE is based in Los Angeles, California and is dedicated to elevating the discussion around cannabis culture.
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