Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders Encourages Californians to Legalize Marijuana This Fall

Ballot initiative in the works.


Bernie Sanders
Credit: Phil Roeder via / CC BY

Californians will likely be voting this November whether to join a handful of other states in legalizing (and regulating) recreational marijuana use. Polls look positive so far.

But before November, California's got its primaries on June 7. Bernie Sanders has declined to drop out of the race and grant the nomination to Hillary Clinton, though it seems unlikely he's going to win. So the campaigns have swung over to the Golden State.

Today, Sanders is speaking at a rally in East Los Angeles, introduced by actor Rosario Dawson (resulting in Tommy Chong being shown the door).  Danny Freeman, embedded with the campaign for NBC, tweeted out from the speech Sanders' somewhat federalist support for marijuana legalization. The full quote:

I have introduced legislation and will implement as president, taking marijuana out of the federal controlled substance act. Now all you know, all you know, that the legalization of marijuana, that decision is made on the statewide level. You know that four states plus D.C. have already made that decision. You all know there's going to be a ballot item on in California in November. And I think it makes sense to legalize marijuana at this particular point. So if I were here in your state, I would vote yes on that issue.

Clinton right now has a healthy lead over Sanders in California. As Anthony Fisher noted earlier in the month, Sanders' refusal to abandon the campaign is partly an attempt to push the Democratic Party away from the remnants of drug warrior mentalities. Clinton's criminal justice plan calls for loosening federal laws on marijuana use, but not eliminating them. She would reschedule marijuana to be considered the same as methadone, Percoset, and other opioids. Given the current panic over opioids, it's not clear that's going to lead to better outcomes. She would, at least, not interfere with states that decide to legalize marijuana.