• Sarah Gersten

Bernie's Win in New Hampshire Marks Historic First for Legalization

The Vermont senator is the first major party candidate to campaign heavily on legalization.

Photo: Southern Canna

The following post should not be taken as an endorsement for or opposition to a political candidate, but rather an overview of where presidential candidates stand on cannabis justice reform.

After the nation’s first primary vote, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who campaigned heavily on cannabis legalization, has emerged as the democratic party’s front-runner. Last year, Sanders announced a comprehensive legalization plan, which included key criminal justice reform provisions. Along with highlighting the need for an independent clemency board to process the petitions of currently incarcerated cannabis offenders, the plan also proposed using marijuana tax dollars to fund reentry programs, and eliminating barriers to public benefits for justice-involved individuals.

While Sanders has always differentiated himself from other candidates by calling for descheduling via an administrative process rather than through legislation, he has recently doubled down on this pledge stating that he would legalize marijuana in every state in the country on his first day in office.

Along with prioritizing legalization, Sanders continues to highlight the restorative justice and social equity aspects of his plan, stating at a campaign rally: “We will move forward to expunge the records of those arrested for possession of marijuana, and we will make certain that the legalized marijuana industry is not controlled by a handful of corporations but that those people—the African-American community, the Latino community, the Native American community—those people who have suffered the most will get help in order to make money through a legalized marijuana industry.”

While some legal scholars question the feasibility of Bernie’s plan to legalize via executive order, his continued commitment to putting legalization at the forefront of his campaign’s policy initiatives is a historic first for a front-runner for a major party’s nomination.


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