At a campaign event in Virginia Oct. 28, Bernie Sanders separated himself from Democratic and Republican presidential candidates by declaring: "The time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana."
He said America needs to remove cannabis from federal drug scheduling altogether, and allow each state to regulate it like tobacco and alcohol.
This was a bold promise - more far-reaching than any made by a candidate so far. Most candidates who favor relaxing the laws merely want the Schedule I drug moved to Schedule II so that it can be prescribed for medical use and be more easily studied by researchers.
In his speech, the Vermont senator framed the cannabis debate in social justice terms, referring to the number of Americans who "have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That is wrong; that has got to change."
Here's the full statement:
A huge story on its own, his statement was actually part of a crusade Sanders launched on Twitter this week that marries cannabis with social justice issues like prison sentencing and income equality. Here's a sampling, beginning with a comment on the Republican field of candidates:
It is obscene that people are getting arrested at near record rates for smoking marijuana, but not one Wall Street CEO has been prosecuted.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 28, 2015
The reality is that since the mid-1980s we have seen the Robin Hood principle in reverse. That is unacceptable and that has got to change.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 28, 2015
America now has more wealth and income inequality than any major developed country on earth.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 27, 2015
The gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s. pic.twitter.com/f6pf3CYLxO— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 27, 2015
We must demilitarize police departments & end minimum sentencing. These are real issues that need to be dealt with.https://t.co/b4rHRmjajZ— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 27, 2015
This campaign is sending a message to the billionaire class: you can’t get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 27, 2015
The American people are angry because they know the recession wasn't caused by the working families of this country.https://t.co/75dcJSVVa3— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 27, 2015
We need to end minimum sentencing. Too many lives have been destroyed for non-violent crimes.— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 26, 2015
So with all these promises, does the Sanders campaign have a chance? We'll let Bernie have the last word: