Senator Bernie Sanders has unveiled one of the most ambitious cannabis legalisation plans to date.
Sanders has a long history of pushing for cannabis law reform. In 2015, the senator filed the first ever Senate bill to end the federal prohibition of marijana; he also cosponsored the 2017 Marijuana Justice Act, which called to declassify marijuana as a schedule 1 drug.
At precisely 4:20 p.m. on October 26th 2019, the Senator released a detailed, sweeping proposal to legalise cannabis in the United States on the federal level.
“Too many lives were ruined due to the disastrous criminalization of marijuana. Today I am releasing my plan to: Legalize marijuana with executive action, expunge past marijuana convictions, [and] invest in communities most affected by the War on Drugs,” Bernie tweeted.
According to Sanders’ plan, he would ensure that revenue from the cannabis industry is pumped back into communities that have been most negatively affected by the War on Drugs, such as marginalised communities of colour.
The plan would authorise the creation of a $20 billion grant program within the Minority Business Development Agency to allow entrepreneurs of colour to have the 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 War on Drugs.
Wisely, Bernie's plan would also call to review all past cannabis convictions on both the federal and state levels. All past cannabis convictions would be expunged, while current cannabis-related prison sentences would be placed under review.
The senators’ plan also includes a call to sign an executive order within the first hundred days of office, which will authorise the attorney general to declassify marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
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.
The unique points of the Sanders proposal are twofold. The first is a provision in his proposal suggesting that revenue from cannabis sales establish a $10 billion USDA grant program to help those in areas impacted by the War on Drugs start urban or rural farms or cannabis growing operations, which re-leverages the power of the USDA to promote rural farmers and small farmers and diversity in the marketplace.
The second, and perhaps more important, unique aspect of Sanders’ proposal is the 'anti-monopoly component', which the Senator says will prevent the rapidly growing cannabis industry from becoming like Big Tobacco. Sanders’ proposal attempts to ensure this new legal economy would be robust and provide pathways for wealth generation and ownership for tens and thousands of people, as opposed to just a handful. Sanders’ vows to restructure cannabis businesses more like nonprofits and less like corporations, as well as banning tobacco companies from participating in the cannabis industry.