On Thursday Bernie Sanders released his plan regarding legalizing Marijuana before the Friday start of a three-day forum on criminal justice at Benedict College. Sanders and a handful of his Democratic rivals, along with President Donald Trump, will speak at the event.
“We’re going to legalize marijuana and end the horrifically destructive war on drugs,” Sanders said in a statement. “It has disproportionately targeted people of color and ruined the lives of millions of Americans. When we’re in the White House, we’re going to end the greed and corruption of the big corporations and make sure that Americans hit hardest by the war on drugs will be the first to benefit from legalization.”
Recent polls show 66%, of Americans support making Marijuana legal. Only 30% of those surveyed oppose it.
Eleven states and Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational marijuana use. Meanwhile, 33 states and Washington, D.C., have approved some kind of medical marijuana program.
In February, Sen. Cory Booker reintroduced a bill he co-authored called the “Marijuana Justice Act.” Sanders’ plan shares many of the planks of Booker’s bill, including investment in communities most affected by drug law enforcement.
The details of Sanders plan says he will take executive action directing the Justice Department to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance in his first 100 days in office. He plans to include a promise to limit corporate influence, as his campaign says the senator “will not allow marijuana to turn into Big Tobacco.” Along with the controls to prevent industry consolidation, the Sanders plan would also bar tobacco companies from getting into the marijuana business. The plan would set market share and franchise limits “to prevent consolidation and profiteering”. Sanders plans to review all federal and state marijuana convictions and expunge past convictions.
He also aims to put an estimated $50 billion in tax money into four pools of grants to invest in “communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs, especially African-American and other communities of color” .
Among the other top contenders for the nomination, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has called for legalization. Former Vice President Joe Biden wants to remove marijuana as a controlled substance and let states decide whether to legalize it.
Under Sanders’ plan, the $50 billion in investment would cover funding going to many previous effected by the drug laws. , $20 billion would go toward a grant program with the standard being “entrepreneurs of color who continue to face discrimination in access to capital” . The proposal would put $10 billion toward grants for businesses majority owned by individuals in certain areas or those who have been arrested or convicted of marijuana-related offenses. A second $10 billion to help those individuals start farms or growing operations. The final $10 billion would go toward an economic and community development fund.