Almost every candidate involved in the Democratic presidential primary election believes in reforming federal cannabis laws, but only Bernie Sanders plans to go further than simply allowing use and possession.
Sen. Sanders recently released a comprehensive marijuana legalization plan, which hopes to involve more minority-owned businesses while banning the influence of Big Tobacco.
According to his plan, Sanders says he will legalize marijuana within the first 100 days of his presidency under the following key points:
- Legalize marijuana in the first 100 days with executive action
- Vacate and expunge all past marijuana-related convictions
- Ensure that revenue from legal marijuana is reinvested in communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs
- Ensure legalized marijuana does not turn into big tobacco
Sanders foresees the creation of a $20 billion grant program within the Minority Business Development Agency, which would grant minority entrepreneurs enough funds to start their businesses, as well as a $10 billion grant program to help fund businesses in areas that have been disproportionately affected by the Drug War.
American anti-drug laws have “disproportionately targeted people of color and ruined the lives of millions of Americans,” Sanders said in a statement. “When we’re in the White House, we’re going to end the greed and corruption of the big corporations and make sure that Americans hit hardest by the war on drugs will be the first to benefit from legalization.”
All past marijuana convictions on both federal and state levels would be reviewed under Sanders’ presidency. All past marijuana convictions would be expunged, while prisoners currently serving marijuana-related sentences would also be placed under review.
“We are going to end the horrifically destructive war on drugs and legalize marijuana,” Sanders added. “And we are going to end the disgrace of 400,000 people right now locked behind bars because they are too poor to afford cash bail.”
Another component would keep out existing companies that sell tobacco and cigarettes, along with those “that have created cancer-causing products or (are) guilty of deceptive marketing” by locking them out from the legal cannabis market.
Instead, the plan would give incentive to marijuana growers and distributors who choose to start non-profit or community co-op businesses that would benefit local economies.
“With the exception of Joe Biden, all of the leading Democratic candidates for President support legalizing marijuana,” said Violet Cavendish, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, to Rolling Stone. “Bernie Sanders has set himself apart from the field by proposing the most detailed plan we’ve seen from any candidate during this primary campaign.”