“The time is long overdue for us to take marijuana off of the federal government’s list of outlawed drugs,” said Bernie Sanders recently at a speech on criminal justice reform.
During a Senate floor speech Thursday on criminal justice reform, Sen. Bernie Sanders advocated for removing marijuana from a list of drugs outlawed by the federal government while calling for an end to the death penalty. The presidential candidate also pointed out that due to marijuana’s ambiguous legal status, a new administration under a Republican president could decide to enforce federal law by prosecuting marijuana businesses and individuals in states that have legalized medicinal or recreational pot.
“Tragically, in the United States of America we now have 2.2 million people in jail,” Sanders addressed the Senate. “That is more people incarcerated than any other country on Earth – including China, which is a communist, authoritarian country four times our size. We have more people in jail than does China. Further at a time of large deficits and a very large national debt, we are spending about $80 billion a year in federal, state, and local taxpayer money to lock people up.”
Sanders continued, “In 2014, there were 620,000 marijuana possession arrests. That is one arrest every minute. According to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), there were more than 8 million marijuana arrests in the United States from 2001 to 2010, and almost nine in ten were for possession. Arrests for marijuana possession rose last year nationwide even as Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia became the first states to legalize personal use of marijuana.”