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WIRE: Bernie Sanders introduces Senate bill to end federal marijuana prohibition

Sen. Sanders was the first major party presidential candidate to express support for ending marijuana prohibition, and the bill he filed Wednesday is the first such proposal ever introduced in the U.S. Senate — ‘His actions today speak even louder than his words last month’

* Statement below from Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project *

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) introduced a bill Wednesday that would repeal all federal penalties for possessing and growing marijuana, allowing states to establish their own marijuana laws. The bill is available online at http://www.mpp.org/sandersbill.

The “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015” strikes all references to marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act, but retains penalties for transporting marijuana from states or jurisdictions where it is legal to those where it is not. It is the fourth marijuana policy reform bill to ever be introduced in the Senate, and it is the first that proposes ending marijuana prohibition at the federal level.

Earlier this year, Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kirstin Gillibrand (D-NY), and Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced medical marijuana legislation, known as the CARERS Act. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill to address the tax status of marijuana businesses, and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a measure that would allow marijuana businesses to access banking services.

Last month, Sanders became the first-ever major-party presidential candidate to express support for legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use.

Statement from Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project:

“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.

“The science is clear that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and that should be reflected in our nation’s marijuana policy. Sen. Sanders is simply proposing that we treat marijuana similarly to how we treat alcohol at the federal level, leaving most of the details to the states. It is a commonsense proposal that is long overdue in the Senate.”


Here’s NORML’s press release on the bill:

Presidential candidate calls for descheduling marijuana

Arlington, VA: Vermont Senator and Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says that it is time to get the federal government out of the marijuana enforcement business by removing the substance from the US Controlled Substances Act.

The Senator introduced legislation this week, Senate Bill 2237: The Ending Federal Prohibition of Marijuana Act of 2015, to decshedule cannabis from the federal anti-drug law.

Speaking last week at George Mason University in Virginia, Senator Sanders called cannabis’ present schedule I status under federal law “absurd.” He added: “In my view, the time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana. … [S]tates should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern the sale of alcohol and tobacco.”

The Senator also said that state-compliant marijuana operations “should be fully able to use the banking system without fear of federal prosecution.”

The Senator’s actions differ from those of Democrat opponent and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley who promised to use the executive powers of the President to “to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act.” Republican candidate Rand Paul (R-KY) has also co-sponsored federal legislation, SB 683, that seeks to reclassify cannabis to Schedule II under federal law. However, simply rescheduling marijuana from I to II would not limit the federal government’s authority to prosecute marijuana offenders, including those who are in compliance with state law.

While several other Presidential candidates have called on federal officials to respect states’ marijuana policies, none have proposed amending federal marijuana laws.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

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