Bernie Sanders is signing on as a co-sponsor of Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act today adding his name to a list of highly influential politicians that all seem to be focused on the 2020 presidential election. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, the bill’s original sponsor, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York both seemed to be interested in the presidential nomination and Senator Sanders made a hard run for the nomination in 2016.
It seems that the opioid epidemic the country is facing is one of Sen. Sanders main reasons for co-sponsoring the bill. He tweeted yesterday, “It’s time to hold opioid manufacturers and their executives accountable for the crisis they have created.” Sanders also sent out a call to sign a petition to end the war on drugs by legalizing marijuana nationally earlier this year.
“Leaders in the Democratic Party are increasingly recognizing that leading the charge on legalization is not only good policy, but good politics,” the political director of NORML, Justin Strekal, said in an interview. “The constituencies which the party claims to stand for are the ones who have most felt the weight of prohibition and the lifelong consequences of prohibition.”
The Marijuana Justice Act, if approved by Congress, would not only remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act and deschedule the plant so that states could freely legalize it for adult-use, but it would also remove funding from states that did not decriminalize cannabis and still intended to arrest people for non-violent marijuana possession. The disparity of black men that are arrested, imprisoned and have records that prevent them from getting jobs and admittance into schools for low-level nonviolent marijuana possession crimes far exceeds white people. Studies have shown that white people consume just as much marijuana as any minority group.
“What we are seeing in an ahistorical manner is life expectancy is actually going down because of the number of deaths attributed to opioid addiction among other factors,” Sanders said in a recent CNN interview. “We are seeing in virtually every state in this country people’s lives are being wrecked, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people’s lives.”
There is still a large group of influential politicians opposed to marijuana legalization. For people like Attorney General Jeff Sessions marijuana is a gateway drug to addictive substances like heroin and believes that incarcerating people is the best way to deter people from smoking marijuana. Do you think that it will take until the 2020 presidential election for the federal prohibition of marijuana to end?