Sen. Bernie Sanders, speaking to college students at George Mason University Thursday, said he thinks the federal government should relax about weed.
“Right now, marijuana is listed by the federal government as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is considered to be as dangerous as heroin,” he said. “That is absurd.”
Sanders also said national marijuana policy leads to a disproportionate number of black Americans getting in trouble with the law over pot use or possession.
“And let us be clear,” Sanders said, “as is the case in many other areas, there is a racial component to this situation. Although about the same proportion of blacks and whites use marijuana, a black person is almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person. Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That is wrong. That has got to change.”
Sanders’ proposed fix is to empower state governments to handle marijuana policy the way they see fit.
“In my view, states should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern the sale of alcohol and tobacco,” he said.
Even though some states have legalized marijuana, it’s still prohibited under federal law – a conflict that’s made certain aspects of states’ legalization efforts complicated.
Sanders proposal would remove those conflicts, but anti-legalization advocacy group Smart Approaches to Marijuana said Sanders' comments showed “apparent sympathy with creating a new corporate marijuana industry on par with Big Tobacco.”
Sanders has the lowest “grade” – an F – on SAM’s candidate scorecard out of any presidential candidate in either the Republican or Democratic party. SAM gave Sanders’ Democratic opponents, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley B- and C grades, respectively.
The group gave an A rating to Republican presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ben Carson.
Below is a video of the remarks posted by Sanders' campaign: