Bernie Sanders’ Senate Bill to End Marijuana Prohibition

Senator Bernie Sanders recently introduced the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015” to the U.S. Senate. As its title suggests, this bill would end the federal government’s long-standing prohibition against marijuana. Sanders is championing himself as the presidential candidate most in favor of ending prohibition and the one who realizes that “too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That’s wrong. That has got to change.”

Bernie Sanders is mad about our stupid marijuana laws and he's not going to take it any more.
Bernie Sanders is mad about our stupid marijuana laws and he’s not going to take it any more.

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance with a high risk for abuse and no recognized medical use. According to the CSA, marijuana is more dangerous than cocaine, which is listed as Schedule II. Twenty-three states and Washington D.C. have approved medical marijuana, yet the federal government’s position regarding cannabis officially remains unchanged. If passed, Bernie Sander’s bill would change that.

This bill would add a new section to the CSA stating “This Act shall not apply to marihuana” and it would also explicitly remove “marihuana” and “tetrahydrocannabinols” from Schedule I. This bill also would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act, thereby removing restrictions that prohibit the U.S. from participating in international marijuana transactions. The bill would, however, prohibit moving marijuana across national and state boarders in violation of any U.S. or State law. This would leave the US states free to decide whether to legalize marijuana.

Marijuana legislation at the federal level is not a new phenomenon and we have chronicled various legislative efforts here. Earlier this year Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) reintroduced the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.” This Bill was previously introduced in 2013. The bill was introduced, and not much else has happened; it has not been subjected to committee hearings. Senator Sanders new bill may suffer a similar fate.

But even if this bill does not become law, it is still significant and it certainly has marijuana activists (and others) talking. Mason Tvert, Director of Communications at the Marijuana Policy Project had this to say regarding Senator Sanders’ marijuana bill:

Sen. Sanders really grabbed the nation’s attention when he became the first major-party presidential candidate to speak out in support of ending marijuana prohibition. His actions today speak even louder than his words last month. Hopefully, this legislation will get his colleagues in Congress talking about the need for comprehensive marijuana policy reform.

This sentiment should not be ignored. This is a historic moment in the movement to legalize marijuana. A viable presidential candidate has proposed legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level. This seemed unimaginable even a year ago. The ending of federal marijuana prohibition is far from a guarantee, but by introducing this bill to the Senate, Bernie Sanders has moved forward the discussion of marijuana in this country.

And that is a good thing.

2 responses to “Bernie Sanders’ Senate Bill to End Marijuana Prohibition”

  1. Considering that the DEA and CSA were enacted through Executive Orders of a Republican President the Republican party should re-think changing how EO’s are enacted.
    Instead of going into effect and Congress having to vote them down,,they want to have them approved before they go into effect.
    The war on drugs would never have happened if Congress had looked into it before it started up.
    The panel that wrote the CSA was also appointed through EO and when the panel asked for the science that would prove that marijuana was a dangerous drug,,the DEA replied they had none but ongong research would prove it was dangerous,,that was in 1969,,in 2015 at a hearing in the Reform Committee the chairman asked the DOJ and NIDA if they had any science to prove that marijuana was more dangerous than alcohol.

    The DEA’s response was ” we do not have any science today that would prove marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol BUT we have ongoing research that will.

    The last time it worked for 46 years and so far it has worked for another six months.

  2. Here’s a revelation Bernie Sanders, strike the pejorative term “marihuana” from the formal documents of law and medical regulation. Bigots introduced the fairy-tale in the beginning of the 20th century, and now it’s up to the Gen X people coming in to their 30’s to call out this obvious ethnophaulism that keeps being regurgitated in our public and medical lexicon.

    What is marihuana? It’s a made up thing by the federal government.

    What is cannabis? It’s a plant that’s nearly impossible to grow without THCa, the precursor to THC, the cannabinoid the government used to demonize “MARIHUANA” as an intoxicant and a narcotic which it is neither.

    The drug war is a folly and the CSA is the biggest breach to human liberty the constitution has seen since it’s inception, had we a judicial branch of government that was worth a shit, we’d never need to speculate on your “rehash” of old, tired, trickle-drip quasi legalization that you want to dub “ending marijuana prohibition”.

    No thanks Bernie, time to liberate cannabis…..and that means all the sensimilla farmers, all the broad-farmers, for medicines, for oils, for fibers, for fuels, for healing the soils and the atmosphere and for the healing of the human ego.

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