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.