Skip to main content

Bernie Sanders introduces legislation to legalize recreational marijuana

Bernie Sanders introduces legislation to legalize recreational marijuana


420 Bern it

Share this story

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced a Senate bill today that would legalize recreational marijuana use on a federal level, The Hill reports. This is the first Senate bill ever to propose completely legalizing recreational marijuana.

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act would remove marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Administration's list of "most dangerous drugs" and from the Controlled Substances Act, which regulates the manufacture, possession and use of certain drugs, according to The Huffington Post.

Talk becomes legislation

"Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use," Sanders said last week at George Mason University. "That’s wrong. That has got to change."

Realistically, it's unlikely the bill will pass, but it's a notable move from Sanders, who has continually endorsed the need for drug reform in America during his presidential campaign. Between 2001 and 2010 there were 8.2 million arrests related to marijuana in the US, and 88 percent of those arrests were solely for marijuana possession, according to a report by the ACLU. Drug arrests have also shown consistent racial bias, with black Americans 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.

Sanders' competitors in the presidential election have been a little more wary of taking a firm stance on marijuana reform. During the Democratic debate last month, Hillary Clinton said she would prefer to wait and see how the issue played out on a state level before taking action on a federal level.

Correction, 11PM ET: A previous version of this article identified Bernie Sanders as a Democratic senator; he is, in fact, an independent senator running for the Democratic presidential nomination.