7 Things You Need To Know About Bernie Sanders' Cannabis Bill

On Nov. 4, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders caused a stir by introducing a bill in the Senate that would end the federal prohibition on cannabis.

Here's what you need to know about the bill.

1. This is historic

Marijuana Majority chairman Tom Angell wrote in an email to Extract, "This is the first time a bill to end federal marijuana prohibition has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. A growing majority of Americans want states to be able to enact their own marijuana laws without harassment from the DEA, and lawmakers should listen."

2. This would fundamentally change the role of the DEA

America would switch from eradicating cannabis through the DEA to allowing states to regulate it like alcohol and tobacco. Medical researchers could expand their study of cannabis, which could lead to pot being officially recognized as medicine by the FDA. Marijuana industries in legal states could begin using banks and applying for tax incentives.

3. This is not a legalization bill

Even if the bill passes, you won't be able to start growing weed just yet. Ending federal prohibition essentially puts cannabis in the hands of state legislators. As Sanders told The Washington Post, "In my view, states should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern sales of alcohol and tobacco."

The bill would, in essence, begin each state's process of deciding whether or not to legalize and regulate marijuana.

4. This would not remove all federal laws

According to International Business Times, "Transporting marijuana from jurisdictions where it is illegal to places where it is not would still be prohibited."

5. Sanders is serious

According to Emily Gray Brosious of the Extract, "Politicians make promises on the campaign trail that they frequently do not, or cannot, deliver on once elected. This has become fairly commonplace. So when Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently called to end federal marijuana prohibition on his presidential campaign trail, some remained skeptical he would act on the call."

Introducing the Senate bill proves that Sanders isn't just trying to court the youth vote. He's serious about reforming America's cannabis laws.

6. He's also far ahead of the pack

Proposing the bill also cements Sanders' status as the most progressive candidate when it comes to reforming America's drug laws. His rivals in the Democratic party have considered the issue, but none has committed to making cannabis reform a campaign promise.

The move also responds to potential Republican presidential opponents. On Oct. 21, Governor Chris Christie argued that it was up to Congress to reform cannabis laws. Sanders has swiftly taken up that challenge.

7. This bill is unlikely pass in a Republican-controlled Senate

Ending prohibition won't likely be a high priority for the Republican-controlled Senate, which sets the agenda for the chamber's business.

The Marijuana Majority chair says Sanders' move provides a lift to advocates disappointed by the result in Ohio.

"The introduction of this bill proves that the defeat of the Ohio marijuana monopoly measure that wasn't widely supported in our movement isn't doing anything to slow down our national momentum," says Angell.

h/t Wall Street Journal, Extract, IBTimes, Washington Post, Huffington Post

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John Sinclair is one of the lesser-known people in cannabis culture, but he’s a very important figure, particularly for anti-prohibition activists. Sinclair is a native of Flint, Michigan, far from the hippie epicenters in California or the Warhol scene of the Big Apple. The scene in Michigan was grittier and more blue collar.