Presidential Candidate Calls For Descheduling Marijuana

thumbs_upVermont Senator and Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders yesterday pledged to get the federal government out of the marijuana enforcement business by removing the substance from the US Controlled Substances Act.

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.”

Senator Sanders comments 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.

Senator Sanders latest position is consistent with the view of most voters. According to a 2015 Pew poll, 60 percent of Americans agree that the government “should not enforce federal marijuana laws in states that allow use,” while recent Gallup survey data finds that 58 percent of US citizens over the age of 18 believe cannabis should be legal for adults.

45 thoughts

  1. DID YOU HEAR THAT that sound we have not heard in 100 years… that is the sound of freedom people … VOTE FOR FREEDOM IN 2016 VOTE FOR BERNIE SANDERS let freedom ring … Bernie just set some thing on fire what is all that smoke in 2016 that is the people rushing to the polls to VOTE FOR FREEDOM VOTE FOR SANDERS

  2. There’s the issue everyone’s been talking about for years on this forum: rescheduling MJ.

    Can’t wait to see the responses/complaints.

  3. As a senator, Bernie Sanders could of introduce legislation to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act anytime since he was first elected. Has anyone been a fact check to see if he has ever introduce such legislation? He could even do it tomorrow or the next day if he wanted to. I agree with removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. I just find it rather convenient that he is bringing it up now that he is losing to Hillary Clinton.

  4. In my opinion this issue needs to be forced onto the front burner. It needs to be discussed before we vote. Candidates, you want elected? stand up now and raise your hand. I will legalize marijuana!!! Congratulations ! you just made America billions of dollars. Thousands of people are working adding to our economy. Don’t worry about foreign policy, we have enough people in this country who need help. THANK YOU

  5. Hmm, the only marijuana policy that doesn’t sound like it was written by a lunatic happens to come from the only Presidential Candidate running that is not bought and paid for by corporations. Also, Bernie is the only strong Candidate that isn’t also a narcissist (narcissists don’t do critical thinking very well, yet are very manipulative).

  6. John P,
    While he does have the capacity to do so at any time, it would be difficult to get this passed in our current Congress. However, as POTUS, he could pull this move unilaterally. He’s been broadening his agenda lately as he seeks the presidency. He hasn’t been an enemy, so let’s not begrudge him for not having always been a steadfast ally.

  7. Bernie Sanders is the best candidate by far running for President. Anyone who is serious about this issue, and any other issue around the health and well being of people in the USA, needs to show up and vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary and general election.He has in fact introduced positive legislation around the issue of cannabis in the past. He is the most honest and clear thinking candidate running for President, or that has run for President in a very long time.

  8. Most of those against MJ legalization are elderly. One way to get the message through to them is to let them know that MJ has been proven to fight cancer, a disease mostly of old age, as well as epilepsy, dementia and other age related disease.

    It is sad that some of these people will only see the light after their grandchild is arrested for pot and has to fight a felony conviction.

  9. Many politicians don’t keep their campaign promises after they’re elected. Senator Sanders should PROVE he means what he says and introduce bills to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to allow marijuana facilities to use the banking system NOW. As Senator Sanders said, “the time is long overdue”, so what is he waiting for?

  10. The simple fact that this is a respectable position is huge in my book. Ohio is up to bat to force legalization on the Presidential race.

  11. Vote for Bernie;
    He’s our president
    The words he just conveyed
    Are heaven-sent

    If you want to win now Hillary
    You better light one during the primary

    Cuz Bernie done won the battle now
    Folks are startin to finally question how
    We could have medicine on schedule 1
    While alcohol and tobacco are just fir fun?

    Vote Bernie, brother, he’s our president
    He’s modest and makes sense in a vent
    Cuz all that gun talk from Trump aint worth a cent
    If all he wants to fix he cant prevent

    If I want somethin orange, scary and hollow
    I’ll find a pumpkin better than Trump to follow
    If I need someone to make Democracy
    Then Bernie Sanders sounds bout right to me!

    Vote for Bernie,
    He’s our president…

  12. Election campaign periods are great for pushing for major change. Holding their feet to the fire after they get elected is an entirely different thing. I believe Bernie Sanders will do what he says because I have a long time friend in his state who tells me that he’s a good man. He told me about Bernie taking people to Canada to buy their prescriptions much cheaper. I can’t think of any other politician who would do that. Not even one.

  13. Given the chance, I would definitely cast my vote for Mr. Sanders. So far he is the only candidate with the courage to say what sane people think! He is the only person that is in line with what the people of this country want and deserve.

    Mr. Sanders views on other subjects are vastly superior to any other candidate running for the presidency; like free education and healthcare. Of course they aren’t cheap but it could be done if the Govt quit wasting so much money on useless projects; like the $175 million blimp that got away as a recent example… Idiots!

    As for Mrs. Clinton, apparently she still hasn’t done her homework on this subject that so greatly divides our nation. She wants to wait and see while more people continue to have their lives ruined by harsh prohibitionist laws that make no sense to anyone who is not paid off or part of a drug cartel.

    If Mrs. Clinton ends up getting the Democratic nomination over Mr. Sanders, we can only hope she gets educated on this subject real fast.

    As for the Republicans, well, I just have to say NO WAY are any of them getting my vote!

  14. BTW BLW,
    Thanks for the link
    Pull yer head outta there John P!
    Its gotta stink!
    We got smart phones now
    We can research while we vote.
    And yet somehow
    Most wont read what they wrote…

    Vote Bernie!
    Its better’n givin Trump a nuke!
    Some o the things Trump says
    Makes me wanna puke.
    Id like to light his pumpkin head;
    Perhaps he’ll learn
    To humbly pray for the dead
    And feel the Bern!

    Too many vote in fear
    Or pass in silence
    They cant steer clear
    And contribute to the violence

    But if enough Americans were brave
    Vote for Bernie;
    Think of the lives we’d save

    Vote for Bernie;
    He’s our president…

  15. All my lyrics are open source, just as U.S. Patent 6630507 for “cannabinoids as neurprotectants” should be, as it is owned by the same Department of Health and Human Services that can take your kids away for treating their epilepsy with the only safe, effective non-toxic medicine available; marijuana.

  16. Federal prosecution of cannabis consumers and their non-black market safe access is an abomination. Not only is LEO using institutional theft to combat the energies against prohibition, they are killing anyone willing to fight their efforts.

  17. “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.”

    Wow! That sounds familiar to us NORML fans.

  18. BERNIE is our guy but lets take a reality check as he does not have the ground troops Hillary has. I am going to back him in the primary in hopes that when he swings his supporters to HILLARY he gets a concession on this issue from her before he does. Bernie will have leverage if he can hold a good percentage of the voters in his hand.
    Watching the debates has been an example of what is wrong with corporate news. JOURNALIST ARE DEAD TODAY! When a debate was held in the past the different news agencies reported on it. They did not run it just reported on it like journalist should. When journalist become part of the story they lose their ability to report and start to become the joke they are today. Our people and this issue are controlled by a clever propaganda war orchestrated by our government and law enforcement.
    The main stream media is about on the level of professional wrestling It is kind of a sport but not really. A lot of the problem with the pot issue is disinformation and fear spread by the wrestling federation of news agencies your governments working propaganda partner.

  19. Bernie Sanders is my spirit animal

    Go Bernie, go!
    For once, just this once, can sanity rule the day and an honest man earn a place in America’s history again?

    #Feel the Bern

  20. @John P – I understand your reasoning regarding Mr. Sanders not introducing legislation to remove marijuana from the CSL, but he is smart man. I am sure he realizes that it would be completely futile with a Republican controlled congress.

    As president he could bypass the Republican’s anti-freedom agenda and get it removed from a list it should never have been on in the first place; you know, exactly what we expect and still hope Mr. Obama will do while he has the chance! Nothing annoys me more than for someone who used to be in power giving lip service to something they should have done while they had the power…

  21. As a born and raised Vermonter and social worker, I praise Senator Sanders regarding his tireless effort to bring a sense of equality, intelligence, and practicality into government on a national level. Given my state of residence I have been benefiting from his influence for years.

    Since many of us who visit and support organizations such as NORML are pre-biased to agree with marijuana legalization we in a way are becoming an echo chamber for the notion that little is happening in the way of legalization fast enough. We need to keep in mind that re-educating the public regarding legalization and safety is resting on a history that goes beyond the 1937 Marijuana tax act. Despite Governor O’Mally and Rand Paul’s rescheduling of Cannabis from schedule 1 to schedule 2 being shortsighted, it should be seen as a sign of the shifting frame of dialogue. If one were to look at the issues often discussed in the last two presidential election cycles, one would see little to no discussion about he legalization of Marijuana. There is now an open dialogue even in presidential debates about marijuana legalization. Progress is being made, but patience is unfortunately needed.

    While I believe Senator sanders has the right idea regarding the end of the federal prohibition of marijuana, it needs to be done responsibly. States are in search of more information regarding how to implement marijuana legalization in a responsible manner. Like with alcohol and tobacco there need to be systems in place in states to help deter ingestion of substances until the human brain has developed more thoroughly. Currently the State of Vermont is discussing legalization by the legislature, but part of the dialogue is safety. Legalization efforts lead to public health concerns and Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon are slowing learning what those are. An example would be the data on edibles. According to Shayla Livingston who is a public health analyst at the Department of Health, despite having over 180 studies of the effect of marijuana being looked at by the state “most of the literature is on smoked marijuana.” (VTDigger Information about safety is going to be the biggest catalyst in the process of legalization.

    The major factors of information, patience, and public awareness of safety are going to continue to re frame the dialogue about marijuana legalization at the national level. We just need to be aware of the subtle ways it is happening.

  22. All I know about this guy is the legalization idea he has and nothing else but so far he’s got me really interested in him.

  23. Look at all you sheep! Tell me if im wrong, isn’t this the same Bernie Sanders that 6 month ago said that marijuana was a gateway drug? A politician says something you want to hear and the sheep fall in line like they’ve always done. How many politicians say one thing and do another. How can we trust any of these politicians? Why they aren’t thrown out of office for breach of a verbal contract every time they lie to get voted in I’ll never know.

  24. @RUT
    I can relate to your frustration with the death of American “journalism” and investigative reporting. Thats why I come here, to NORML, a non for profit to get my news!
    Its sad that we have to go to Great Brittain’s to get real investigative journalism on the subject of Bernie Sanders or otherwise. Even the NYTimes, which not long ago called for “The End of Prohibition” has turned into tabloid entertainment news, with their front page on the Sunday times calling Sanders “impersonal” and criticized him for not “kissing babies.” That’s not even news! I canceled my subscription to the Times.
    Thank God for the Guardian and NORML or I would have to rely on public radio, and even they have their corporate underwriters.

  25. @RUT,
    Oh, and as for Hillary’s “ground troops” she is more focused on the delegates and electoral college to compete with Bernie. I wouldnt underestimate Bernie’s momentum however, as social media spreads the message of descheduling the Herb Sanders is preaching that corporately purchased media wont.
    Fortunately candidates dont pick their running mates until after the primaries;as loyal as Julian Castro is to the Clintons he better consider feeling the Bern if Hillary loses to Sanders. The latino vote and immigration policy is something Bernie needs to explain better before the primaries are over. If he is against agricultural migrants, he needs to explain his position on human rights abuses and consider how to either fix the law or replace or reform our tomato pickers (and eliminate the tobacco pickers) when no one wants to get raped and extorted in the field. A wise policy solution for immigration reform now would be to use the revenue from fairly taxed marijuana to pay for federal employee certifications and public counciling so that petitions for residency and citizenship dont fall prey to crooked immigration lawyers and remain in limbo status.
    Coming from the only state about to legalize legislatively, Vermont, combined with the voter initiated momentum of Ohio, California, Nevada, Michigan and Massachusetts, Bernie could very well deschedule marijuana in a way that would only have ended up in the courts under President Obama.

  26. @ Gene,

    Could you please tell me where you read that Sanders called MJ a gateway drug six months ago?

    I googled that, and the only articles I got were a Washington Times article, on June 2, where Sanders said, ” . . . those in law enforcement, though, see it as a ‘gateway drug’ . . . ”

    And I got an article in Raw Story, on April 20, where Chris Christie calls MJ a gateway drug.

    Gene, where did you see, read that about Sanders?

  27. @ Gene,

    After further research on the topic of Bernie Sanders and MJ, I found a site called “” and on the issue of Bernie Sanders and drugs, I saw five listings:

    •Voted NO on military border patrols to battle drugs & terrorism. (Sep 2001)
    •Voted NO on subjecting federal employees to random drug tests. (Sep 1998)
    •Legalize medical marijuana. (Jul 2001)
    •Exclude industrial hemp from definition of marijuana. (Aug 2012)
    •Exempt industrial hemp from marijuana laws. (Mar 2013)

    There is a link above the five “bullets” on the site, going into more details on each of those issues.

    Gene, is there something I’m missing?

  28. I went back and tried to find where I heard this and I must apologize but can’t find it anywhere i was sure I heard it on the news in the morning when getting ready for work. But checked everywhere. And can’t find anything on it.thank you for bringing this to my attention. I must of misheard or misunderstood.

  29. @ Evening Bud
    Gene either got his facts mixed up or he’s just another problem making troll Bud! Bernie Sanders is 100% pro Cannabis….

  30. I was man enough to admit I either misheard or misunderstood. I would think you would of been man enough to except my apology. Looks like I was wrong again.

  31. @ Ivan,

    As Gene himself acknowledges, he may’ve misheard the news report. I’m guessing he caught the last part of what Sanders said about ” . . . those in law enforcement . . . see it as a gateway drug . . . “

  32. I am trying to grasp why there isn’t an immediate push for descheduling cannabis. Why is a candidate for a race, in a year’s time, bringing up the issue. Lets get Obama to do this. Let’s get noisy. I’m sick of always waiting for the next politician who seems “kinda reasonable”, in hopes of what our elected representatives promised will come to fruition. Obama clearly stated he would not use federal resources for enforcing marijuana laws. 8 years later… Fuck.

  33. This is just a vote grab, pandering to those who do not understand economics or politics. Rand Paul has supported legalization for years, yet the media does not talk about it. Socialism is NOT freedom! It is the exact opposite.

  34. @ Walt,

    So, according to you, any politician who now advocates for legalization of pot is merely pandering. So what should we do? Wait until true pot advocates run for office and become Senators and Congressmen? Must have the purists in there fighting for us, instead of the opportunists! Under that model we’d have one hell of a long wait, as most Senators and Congressmen belong to the millionaire class, or, to put it another way, the martini and champagne class.

    As far as socialism not being freedom, I have to laugh. We here in the USA are already practicing socialists–social security, medicare, police departments, military, post offices, roads, bridges and highways, etc etc etc.

    Our socialism is resisted very hard by the millionaire class, it’s true–they’ve spent millions trying to eliminate many of those social programs, particularly SS and medicare. They don’t need them, so don’t think they should have to participate.

    BTW, regarding freedom, the Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, ranks the USA 15th in the world in their “freedom” index, behind, in this order:

    New Zealand

    The CATO Institute, Fraser Institute and Swiss Liberales Institut, in another combined study, rates the USA 20th, behind, aside from most of those previously mentioned countries, such socialist bastions as Finland, Germany and the Netherlands. (The CATO institute, I’m guessing you know, is a staunchly conservative think tank!)

    That’s quite a few “socialist” countries ahead of us, Walt, on the freedom meter. It seems you are less free than you realize.

  35. @Evening Bud

    I did not say all politicians who advocates for legalization are pandering, I said Sanders is. He is now doing anything he can to beat Clinton, and hell, more power to him. But it is convenient timing now that he is running. Again, Rand spoken on it time and again ever since stepping in office, despite his own party frowning on it.

    Also, I never claimed to think good ol ‘merica is truly free. I am very aware of just how little freedom we have. We cannot even keep a plant that grows naturally for heaven’s sake. I agree with you there, we have a long way to go to find true liberty. But less government will allow more liberty, more takes it away. Yes, there are some basic functions for which government is needed. Roads, law enforcement, military, but….. NOT HEALTHCARE OR SS. The government should protect us from threats foreign and domestic, and not much else. Instead of wasting all this money and time talking about paying for everyone’s healthcare, we should figure out how to make it affordable WITHOUT insurance. Health insurance should not even exist. The healthcare system is a scam from the top down, and insurance companies feed the problem. There is no other sector with such bloated costs across the entire industry. But that is getting off topic…

    If he wins, at least this is one thing I can appreciate him for. I just don’t want to have to pay for any more entitlement programs…

  36. @ Walt,

    You and I have very different opinions about the role of govt. And I will be happy to discuss that topic if you’d like. I’m cutting it short on this thread, because it is about to end, so a long reply would be almost pointless on this thread.

    In any case, best wishes and thanks for the courteous reply, EB.

    BTW, I am glad Rand Paul has the stance he does on pot; alas, because I am not a single issue voter, I would NEVER vote for a person like him who obviously believes, but doesn’t have the courage to admit, that he’d be okay with an establishment–a private establishment–refusing someone service based on race, color, creed, etc. That is an attitude that should have died out in the 1950s. Just my opinion.

  37. I would vote for Bernie Sanders in a heartbeat if we get the chance. Forget the Repubs, for me it is either Hilary or Bernie. While Hilary takes cautious baby steps, Bernie is marching like a real man!

  38. all these people in jail & the pen!!! killers get out before people who sold or grew a little weed? it grows natural where i come from if they made it legal. that’s more money for everyone. gov. & citizen alike!! its natural just throw seed out and it grows!! they can’t show us anything that proves pot is bad for you! you can go buy ciggs that have a warning label on the side that says they will kill you!!! j. edgar hoover was an asshole who should never have had the job he had he doesn’t do anything but put out propaganda!! like reefer madness. if you want a good laugh watch it. black-hearted lies he reminds me of hitler with the propaganda. i think he should have been charged with high treason . i guess until they legalize it poor folk in ky, will just stay poor!! it’s a SAD situation .GOD BLESS THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!! BECAUSE IT DON’T SEEM LIKE THE GOVERNMENT CARES

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