Bernie Sanders unveils plan to legalize marijuana nationwide

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Gage Skidmore

Oct. 25 (UPI) — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders unveiled a plan Thursday to legalize marijuana nationwide, reverse marijuana convictions and regulate the marijuana industry.

The senator from Vermont shared the plan on his website pledging to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act, expunge past convictions of marijuana-related offenses, and ensure that the tobacco industry and other large corporations are not prioritized as a market for legal marijuana emerges.

“It is time to admit that the criminalization of marijuana was a disaster, especially for communities of color and allow those most impacted to move forward with their lives,” Sanders said. “Our job now is to legalize marijuana and vacate and expunge past marijuana convictions and ensure that revenue from legal marijuana is reinvested in communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs.”

If elected, Sanders pledged to issue an executive order to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance within his first 100 days in office in addition to nominating an attorney general, Health and Human Services secretary and Drug Enforcement Administration administrator who will uphold its legalization.

He also plans to reverse marijuana-related convictions under the same model used in California, automatically expunging and vacating past convictions for all those eligible after granting prosecutors one year to appeal or object.

Sanders’ plan would put regulations in place to ensure the marijuana industry does not “turn into big tobacco” by incentivizing marijuana businesses to be structured like non-profits, and ban tobacco and cigarette companies from participating.

Additionally, Sanders offered a commitment to using marijuana revenue to create a pair of $10 billion grant programs for businesses owned by people from areas highly impacted by marijuana arrests and help people from the same communities start their own marijuana growing operations.

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