Marijuana

Bernie Sanders Manages To Make Marijuana Legalization Cost $50 Billion

The senator's marijuana legalization plan is heavy on taxes, regulation, and executive power.

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Yesterday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) released at 4:20 P.M. (sigh) an ambitious marijuana legalization plan that is heavy on taxes, spending, regulation, and executive action.

Within the first 100 days of his administration, the Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate is promising to issue an executive order instructing the attorney general to deschedule marijuana as a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, something legalization advocates say would be a huge win.

"Directing the attorney general to declassify marijuana would eliminate significant obstacles to medical marijuana research and also alleviate the banking problems facing marijuana companies operating under state law," says Matthew Schweich of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

Marijuana's current classification as a Schedule I drug prohibits state-legal cannabis businesses off from using U.S. banks, meaning they lack access to financing, payment processing services, and even basic bank accounts.

Sanders' plan also calls for expunging the records of those convicted of federal marijuana offenses, re-sentencing federal marijuana prisoners, and providing funding for states and cities to do the same. While expungement goes beyond a president's pardon power and would require the cooperation of the courts (and possibly Congress), throwing the executive branch's weight behind an expungement effort would speed the process along, Schweich says.

Because this is a Sanders plan, his legalization initiative also calls for more federal spending and regulation. Sanders wants to tax the newly legal marijuana industry to the tune of $50 billion over 10 years, and then spend that revenue on new grant and development programs. This includes $20 billion in grants to "entrepreneurs of color who continue to face discrimination in access to capital." Another $10 billion will be given out as grants to "businesses that are at least 51 percent owned or controlled by those in disproportionately impacted areas or individuals who have been arrested for or convicted of marijuana offenses."

Sanders would establish a separate but similar $10 billion grant program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to subsidize marijuana grow operations run by people with marijuana arrest or conviction records. Lastly, he would set up another $10 billion community development fund that would "provide grants to communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs."

To prevent "mostly white, mostly male, and already rich 'cannabiz' entrepreneurs" from dominating the industry, Sanders would impose strict, albeit unspecified, market share and franchise caps on marijuana businesses. His plan would also ban tobacco companies and any other corporation that has "created cancer-causing products," or been found guilty of deceptive marketing tactics, from participating in the marijuana industry.

"The idea of preventing tobacco companies from investing in marijuana companies is something that requires some more scrutiny from a constitutional perspective," says Schweich. "If we are regulating them properly, their investors don't really matter."

So long as marijuana companies are barred from making false claims about their products or targeting advertisements at children, argues Schweich, the particular ownership of these companies shouldn't really be a concern to the federal government.

All things considered, Sanders' plan would do a lot to wind down the federal government's destructive, misguided, and outdated prohibition of marijuana. Descheduling marijuana could also be accomplished by unilateral executive action. Having Sanders pre-committed to that is, therefore, a big deal.

The massive amount of new spending and taxes that Sanders wants to pair with legalization, not to mention his anti-corporate regulatory regime, would likely make it difficult to bring the entire existing cannabis industry into the legal market. But those elements would also likely be a tough sell to any Congress.

NEXT: Federal Deficit Hit $984 Billion Last Year—a Nearly 50 Percent Increase Since Trump Took Office

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  1. Well, all that is really necessary is to remove it from schedule I, AS REQUIRED BY LAW given it has medical uses.
    That part is free. So do that and stop.
    Look! I saved the taxpayers 50 billion dollars!

    1. you’re like Charles Grodin.

    2. Which does nothing to remedy the harms of prohibition which Sanders is trying to do. Stick to your law, I’m sure it will make you less violent, lol.

      1. Are you replying to a comment that has since been deleted? Removing cannabis from the schedule of controlled substances would do a great deal to end the harms of marijuana prohibition. Expungement would be nice but not under the purview of the president.

        1. You said stop, nice try

          1. You posted this bullshit:

            “Which does nothing to remedy the harms of prohibition which Sanders is trying to do.”

            Not a nice try, a prevarication at best, ohlookfuckingleftyignoramus.

    3. Exactly, and that is the way it should be!
      The problem is that they do not stop when they should, and always over reach into areas they do not belong. The taxes and licensing for it should all be at the State level, not the federal level.
      This is just another example of federal intrusion into States affairs.
      In the end, this is just another campaign promise that will be broken, forgotten or ignored after election, so it does not matter anyway…

  2. “Because this is a Sanders plan, his legalization initiative also calls for more federal spending and regulation.”

    In other words it is only partial deregulation with some new ones added on. Something Reason has supported in the past

    1. I imagine you hitting refresh as fast as you can, sitting there, rocking back and forth, finger tapping away so much that I bet you’d spill a half-empty cup of coffee (but you probably drink them empty immediately), and just waiting so you can whine about Reason supporting some statist position barely related to the article which just came online.

  3. Nobody needs 25 different brands of rolling papers.

    1. Zig Zig will be declared a Public Utility so we can have paper neutrality.

      1. But what if I – snort – prefer ez widers?

    2. Pretty much. And what the fuck is with this constant “Reason supported (x) so they are unmitigated statists” refrain anyway?

      99.99% of the time this “support” is an acknowledgement that the policy in question might be better on the balance than the status quo, coupled with some discussion of its shortcomings.

      But what it never is is a position that a Reason writer invented independently and argued to be the optimum state of affairs.

      We don’t need current event analysis to simply assert “anarchism is always best”. That point can be stated once and left at that. The whole point of this is to consider the various proposals actually being put before us, not to constantly reiterate a perfect world ideal.

  4. “Within the first 100 days of his administration, the Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate is promising to issue an executive order instructing the attorney general to deschedule marijuana as a controlled substance under the Controlled Substances Act, something legalization advocates say would be a huge win.”

    What if Trump states it will be the first thing he does? Or, what if he does it this summer? I imagine that’s an ace Trump already has up his sleeve.

    1. I don’t think he’ll do that, but the Democrats will say it was their idea and take credit for it.

      And it won’t be covered on CNN, so none of their constituents will know any better.

      1. It’s Trump. It would make sense to remove any reason to vote for his opposition. That’s an easy one that will win him votes. It’s not going to lose him any votes. That’s all he thinks about.
        Well, maybe big titty women, cheeseburgers, taco bowls, hair stylists, Fox and Friends, and then winning.

      2. I’m pretty sure that the folks to whom it matters will definitely become aware if weed gets descheduled pretty quickly, regardless of their politics. Whether or not they choose to give credit to El Jefe Naranja is another matter – I suspect they wouldn’t, even though it’d be merited in that case.

        1. Exactly, and those that are die-hard weed fanatics aren’t going to say “Trump legalized weed! Fuck that guy!”

  5. Within the first 100 days of his administration, the Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate is promising to issue an executive order instructing the attorney general to deschedule marijuana

    Cynical Rich interprets this as: The Vermont senator and Democratic presidential candidate says he will promise within the first 100 days of his administration to issue an executive order instructing the attorney general to, at some indeterminate time, deschedule marijuana.

  6. People say Bernie is smart, but I can’t buy it. I could write a bill that legalizes Marijuana in only half a page. And it wouldn’t cost the taxpayers any more than it would take to print it up in the Federal Register.

    1. But you wouldn’t have 49.5 pages of shoutout to people of color who have been disproportionately impacted by years and years of disproportionate criminal law.

      1. Haha. Yeah. Bernie rarely misses a chance to pander to people of color. I think they’re on to him!

    2. And because of that, you won’t get an ounce of airtime.

  7. i enjoyed the cat-and-mouse game when i was the outlaw, and i enjoy the freedom Dallas provides by not looking my way as long as i’m not acting the fool. feds not necessary.

    1. Until the DEA shows up in Dallas at least.

  8. This is a great time to remind people that socialism is fundamentally authoritarian, and that, even in heavily progressive states like California and Washington, the voters had to legalize it over the apparent objections of progressive politicians through a referendum. In fact, the reason New Jersey and New York state haven’t legalized recreational marijuana isn’t because of social conservatives or Republicans. It’s because of the progressive politicians that run both states. They’re not sure you should be allowed to buy sugary soft drinks. Why would progressives let you consume marijuana?

    1. “Why would progressives let you consume marijuana?”

      Why would progressives let you buy plastic straws, w/o VERY special permission? Next thing ya know, the peons will be stuffing POT LEAVES FROM POT PLANTS THAT THEY GREW FOR THEMSELVES into those EVIL plastic straws, and lighting them up!

      Suggestion for EVIL anti-authoritarians: Get yerself a LEGALLY PRESCRIBED pot-bag or pot-plastic-bottle… If’n ye can get one for less than 3 trillion dollars, after all the trolls have been paid off… And after you have consumed the contents… RE-FILL yer container, with ILLEGAL WEED!!! Now ye are legit, unless the cops pull off 2-million-dollar “isotope analysis” etc., to peg you as “guilty” for having made a swapper-oo…

      Legal humans v/s illegal sub-humans is a HUGE issue today… Next, add to it, LEGAL pot v/s illegal pot!!! Soon, every THC molecule will be subjected to “papers please”!

      (Insert joke about “pot-rolling papers” here, please! I’m tapped out!)

      1. I mean, the simpler thing for them to do is compare receipts at your medical dispensary with the age of the bud, which can be determined fairly readily at relatively low expense. But that presumes they have a reason to think you’ve bought some black market stuff on the side, which would most likely result if they have some kind of human intelligence on you (somebody snitched, etc.). I think your plan is a good way to avoid getting hassled, but it’s not a bulletproof method of avoiding prosecution.

    2. even in heavily progressive states like California and Washington, the voters had to legalize it over the apparent objections of progressive politicians through a referendum.

      In contrast to red states where complete legalization happened when their legislatures all voted to legalize out of their sheer love of freedom?

      1. If red states are wrong for doing the same thing as blue states, that doesn’t let blue states off the hook for being wrong.

        And to whatever extent anyone imagines that progressive politicians are fundamentally better on this, they should note that even in the most progressive enclaves in the country, voters were required to overrule the objections of progressive politicians in order to get marijuana legalized.

        The objections in places like New Jersey and New York are almost certainly about the Democratic machines that run those states being beholden to law enforcement unions.

        1. If red states are wrong for doing the same thing as blue states, that doesn’t let blue states off the hook for being wrong.

          It also doesn’t serve as a great object lesson in why blue states are worse as compared to states where the effort isn’t even being made.

          1. I said they suck, and I pointed how and why.

            I didn’t say they were worse–not that it matters.

            1. Here’s Ken being ignorant again. I wonder if folks can see why?

      2. Georgia didn’t legalize Sunday alcohol sales until the GOP took over the Legislature.

    3. Yep. The D’s missed this boat while Obama was in office. They figured Hillary would win and they could just cruise to “victory” like they did with gay marriage. (Reminder that the SCOTUS actually forced the issue, not politicians!)

      1. D’s did nothing for gay marriage. D’s like to take credit for social changes that happened despite of them, not because of them.

    4. NY was derailed by progressives, not out of opposition to the idea itself– Cuomo refused to give sufficient set asides for black communities because his cronies wanted that money, and the legislators representing those communities chose to let their constituents lives get continue to get destroyed out of spite for it instead of try to get money later; NJ was derailed by social conservative DINOs, not the progressive wing of the party… Like NY and CA, once you get outside the urban areas, it gets redder fast, so the Republicans and purple-area “Democrats” are enough to block progress.

      1. Where do you think drug prohibition came from in the first place? Progressives. Same people who gave us eugenics, segregation, forced sterilization, race based quotas, etc.

  9. How do we go from cigarettes are evil (cancer, wrinkles, hairy tongue, yellow teeth, bad breath) to but smoke week – yeah!?

    1. Well, the banners can always go with “But Marijuana is the slippery slope to allowing cigarettes again!”

    2. Not a hard turnaround for them, it seems, because what they think now is that smoking isn’t the problem, nicotine is, because nicotine is “addictive”. And smokers and vapers are evil for blowing secondhand nicotine your way.

  10. “The senator’s marijuana legalization plan is heavy on taxes, regulation, and executive power.”

    Gee, who would’ve thought a cheerleader for communism would want more taxes, regulation and aggrandizing executive power.
    Where does he get these ideas?

  11. “heavy on taxes, regulation, and executive power”

    Which guarantees a thriving illegal market.

    1. At least the Drug War will be able to continue, so win-win.

    2. “Which guarantees a thriving illegal market.”

      CA ‘legalized’ (regulated) the m-j market and the state government is ‘surprised’ the regulated market is not delivering the tax revenues.
      Free market drugs are mo betta!

  12. We are going to ban cigarette companies from selling marijuana?

    What happens when we decide mj is bad for you? Ban those companies from selling cigs?

    1. Yeah, it’s kinda like how they decided vaping was evil since the tobacco companies invested heavily in it. I mean, here’s a whole industry that looked at this new tech that was going to destroy their current business, and rather than lobbying to cripple it they bucked up, bought out the early companies, and starting innovating for their customers’ benefit – naturally, neither team could let this go unpunished.

  13. Sanders needs the money to pay for the police to arrest the people who consume black market marijuana because legal marijuana is so expensive because the money is needed to pay for the police to arrest the people who consume ………. etc. Thus a simple act of reclassification becomes a forever government program. Along the way, of course, Bernie skims some off for himself and his friends and to buy votes. Just the way he likes it.

  14. Bernie Sanders Manages To Make Marijuana Legalization Cost $50 Billion

    It’s like we’re all just figuring out how this game works.

  15. “Another $10 billion will be given out as grants to “businesses that are at least 51 percent owned or controlled by those in disproportionately impacted areas or individuals who have been arrested for or convicted of marijuana offenses.”

    OK so I was smart enough not to get arrested or convicted so now I can’t get any of that sweet federal welfare? I gotta partner up with 2 idiots that got busted? Or move to the ghetto?

  16. All we really need to do is take a look at alcohol Prohibition. It was enacted via the 18th Amendment, and ended with the 21st Amendment. Cut and dry! To end Cannabis Prohibition we simply repeal the Amendment that grants the government the power to wage the Drug War!

    In all seriousness, there’s a lesson in the value of limited government here: never grant government these powers because once they have them, there’s a 99.99% chance you’ll never see them again. And in the exceedingly rare event that they’re actually willing to relinquish control over a given liberty, you’ll only be able to buy it back at an extortionate price!

  17. “Yesterday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) released at 4:20 P.M. (sigh) an ambitious marijuana legalization plan that is heavy on taxes, spending, regulation, and executive action….”

    You are allowed to call Bernie on his lies; that is a marijuana regulation plan. Legalizing the product is a side effect.

  18. Sᴛᴀʀᴛ ᴡᴏʀᴋɪɴɢ ғʀᴏᴍ ʜᴏᴍᴇ! Gʀᴇᴀᴛ ᴊᴏʙ ғᴏʀ sᴛᴜᴅᴇɴᴛs, sᴛᴀʏ-ᴀᴛ-ʜᴏᴍᴇ ᴍᴏᴍs ᴏʀ ᴀɴʏᴏɴᴇ ɴᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ ᴀɴ ᴇxᴛʀᴀ ɪɴᴄᴏᴍᴇ… Yᴏᴜ ᴏɴʟʏ ɴᴇᴇᴅ ᴀ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀ ʀᴇʟɪᴀʙʟᴇ ɪɴᴛᴇʀɴᴇᴛ ᴄᴏɴɴᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ… Mᴀᴋᴇ $80 ʜᴏᴜʀʟʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴜᴘ ᴛᴏ $13000 ᴀ ᴍᴏɴᴛʜ ʙʏ ғᴏʟʟᴏᴡɪɴɢ ʟɪɴᴋ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏᴛᴛᴏᴍ ᴀɴᴅ sɪɢɴɪɴɢ ᴜᴘ… Yᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ғɪʀsᴛ ᴄʜᴇᴄᴋ ʙʏ ᴛʜᴇ ᴇɴᴅ ᴏғ ᴛʜɪs ᴡᴇᴇᴋ
    pop over to this website …….. Read More

  19. Bernie Who?

    Bernie will not win as a majority of states will not elect some guy who literally had a heart attack on the campaign trial. That is literally voting for the Vice President candidate to be president within a matter of months if they win.

  20. How could it be constitutional to award contracts to businesses owned by ‘persons of color’? This supposed that the rest of us can’t apply.

    1. When have “people of color” had problems in the drug trade?

  21. Only government could figure out a way to make something like pot non profitable.

    You really have to work hard to do that.

  22. Bernie of course would make this legalization as Canadian as possible. It was a mistake to legalize it, just decriminalize it.

  23. Sᴛᴀʀᴛ ᴡᴏʀᴋɪɴɢ ғʀᴏᴍ ʜᴏᴍᴇ! Gʀᴇᴀᴛ ᴊᴏʙ ғᴏʀ sᴛᴜᴅᴇɴᴛs, sᴛᴀʏ-ᴀᴛ-ʜᴏᴍᴇ ᴍᴏᴍs ᴏʀ ᴀɴʏᴏɴᴇ ɴᴇᴇᴅɪɴɢ ᴀɴ ᴇxᴛʀᴀ ɪɴᴄᴏᴍᴇ… Yᴏᴜ ᴏɴʟʏ ɴᴇᴇᴅ ᴀ ᴄᴏᴍᴘᴜᴛᴇʀ ᴀɴᴅ ᴀ ʀᴇʟɪᴀʙʟᴇ ɪɴᴛᴇʀɴᴇᴛ ᴄᴏɴɴᴇᴄᴛɪᴏɴ… Mᴀᴋᴇ $80 ʜᴏᴜʀʟʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴜᴘ ᴛᴏ $13000 ᴀ ᴍᴏɴᴛʜ ʙʏ ғᴏʟʟᴏᴡɪɴɢ ʟɪɴᴋ ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ʙᴏᴛᴛᴏᴍ ᴀɴᴅ sɪɢɴɪɴɢ ᴜᴘ… Yᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ғɪʀsᴛ ᴄʜᴇᴄᴋ ʙʏ ᴛʜᴇ ᴇɴᴅ ᴏғ ᴛʜɪs ᴡᴇᴇᴋ
    pop over to this website …….. Read More

  24. It never cease to bumfoozle me how politicians can screw up what should be a simple matter of getting government out of the way.

    Look, Sanders, we KNOW government regulation of marijuana doesn’t help. Just. Friggging. STOP.

    My drugs of choice – caffeine and nicotine – happen to be legal…for now.

    *shrug*

  25. In a sane world, everyone would ignore anything crazy Bernie says.

    1. In a sane world I would not be watching the Browns game right now.

  26. I mean, the simpler thing for them to do is compare receipts at your medical dispensary with the age of the bud, which can be determined fairly readily at relatively low expense. But that presumes they have a reason to think you’ve bought some black market stuff on the side, which would most likely result if they have some kind of human intelligence on you (somebody snitched, etc.). I think your plan is a good way to avoid getting hassled, but it’s not a bulletproof method of avoiding prosecution. Recruitmentplanet

  27. His plan will legalize it only to drive it back to a black market to avoid the heavy hand and theft by government.

  28. I don’t even get what’s so fascinating about marijuana to begin w

  29. I’ve seen estimates of the total market in the US to be $50-60B. Sounds like he is calling for roughly a 10% tax at the federal level which is ball park the same as excise tax on distilled spirits. Rather it would be 0% but I can live with that if it gets everything legalized.

  30. I love how his proposal merely opens a new lobbying door for even more money to flow into our politicians fat, overstuffed, greedy pockets. What sick SOB.

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