Democrat Bernie Sanders plans to change a lot about marijuana if elected president. This policy change is almost inevitable with the majority of candidates supporting the legalization. In fact, a new study has revealed that 66 percent of the population is in favor of legalizing marijuana. Sanders is the first of them to release such an extensive plan and is going to make it one of his largest priorities. The plan consists of immediate legalization, expunging records, and funding specific marijuana-related projects with the money received from taxes.
Immediate and Permanent Legalization
Sanders announced his plan in late October, ironically at 4:20 pm EST. First of all, Sanders will legalize marijuana in the first 100 days of being elected by using an executive order. Not only does Sanders plan to legalize marijuana, but he will also order the attorney general to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance. A stipulation of this plan includes going through Congress to make sure marijuana is permanently legalized.
States would still have to decriminalize marijuana themselves, but many landscapes would change if marijuana was federally legalized. Colleges will have to restructure their marijuana policies since all of them follow federal standards. In fact, most professional associations, including professional sports teams, will reconsider their marijuana policy if the drug is federally legalized.
Sanders’s second part of the plan is to expunge all marijuana-related convictions. Modeled after New York’s recent success of expunging criminal records, anyone who has been arrested for marijuana possession can apply to have their records expunged. An expungement determination process will be created to decide if they are eligible to have their records cleared. This, however, will likely be the biggest disagreement from this plan.
Finally, Sanders wants to offer some relief to those who were affected by the war on drugs. By using the tax money from this plan, Sanders intends to set aside over $50 billion to fund certain groups and areas. Sanders proposes several billion-dollar programs, including:
- $20 billion for “entrepreneurs of color who continue to face discrimination in access to capital”
- $10 billion to businesses in affected areas, or who have been arrested for marijuana offenses.
- Another $10 billion dedicated to “help disproportionately affected areas and people who have been arrested for or convicted of marijuana offenses start urban and rural farms and urban and rural marijuana growing operations.”
- Finally, A program worth $10 billion to “provide grants to communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs.”
Another big fear of legalizing marijuana is it becoming too large to control, like the tobacco industry. For many people, a large fear is the marijuana industry becoming a monopoly. This could lead to unfair practices, price spikes, and loose regulations. Sanders has considered this as well and has created additional stipulations for this. Federal regulations for the legalization include:
- Businesses must operate as nonprofits
- Not allowing products to target minors
- Banning tobacco involvement
- Not allowing marketing to be misleading
- Finally, setting market shares and franchise caps beforehand
Bernie Sanders has thought about every aspect of legalizing marijuana. If elected president, the policies for marijuana are going to change for the entire country. Marijuana will be permanently legalized within 3 months. Fresh starts will be available to people who have been arrested for minor marijuana charges. Finally, tax revenues will help those who have been affected by the drug. There is still quite sometime before the election, but marijuana supporters will be likely vote for Bernie Sanders after this plan.