Bernie Sanders Introduces Senate Bill To Lift The Federal Ban On Marijuana

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Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders introduced a bill in the Senate today that would lift the federal ban on marijuana.

According to the office of Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) who introduced the bill in the House:

Senator Bernie Sanders today introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, a bill to lift the federal ban on marijuana. The bill is companion legislation to H.R. 1013, the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, a bipartisan bill that Polis introduced in February along with Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), and nine other original cosponsors. Polis has led the same measure in each of the last two sessions of Congress.

Just as alcohol prohibition failed in the 1920s, it’s clear marijuana prohibition is failing today,” Polis said. “For decades, the federal ban on marijuana has wasted tax dollars, impeded our criminal justice system, lined the pockets of drug cartels, and trampled on states’ ability to set their own public health laws.

It makes no sense for marijuana to be grouped together with drugs like heroin and LSD, and we must continue working to end this misguided policy. Today’s introduction of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act in the Senate is a huge step forward in the movement to enact the commonsense drug laws needed to grow our economy and restore fairness to our justice system.

States like Colorado that have successfully legalized recreational and medical marijuana have proven that thoughtfully regulating marijuana works much better than banning it. The federal government needs to get out of the way.

The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and enable every state to decide whether to regulate or prohibit the sale and use of marijuana within its own borders.

Polis and Blumenauer first introduced this bill in the 113th Congress as H.R. 499 on February 5, 2013. In the 114th Congress, Polis and Blumenauer reintroduced the bill as H.R. 1013 on February 20, 2015, and renamed the bill the “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.”

Though Sanders’ bill is companion legislation to H.R. 1013, there are noteworthy differences. In particular, H.R. 1013 includes provisions to insert marijuana into the section of the U.S. Code that regulates “intoxicating liquors” and establish a permitting system for commercial producers overseen by the Treasury Department, which are not present in the Senate version of the bill.

The Senate introduction of H.R. 1013 caps off a year of milestones in the movement to reform our nation’s drug policies.

Due to most Republicans being stuck in the “just say no” mentality of the 1980s, this bill will not make it out of Congress. However, introducing these bills is still a vital step in achieving real change.

American society has made great strides on numerous issues during the presidency of Barack Obama, but two great and intertwined challenges remain. The nation is making real bipartisan progress of criminal justice reform, but along with reforming the criminal justice system it is important to look at the decriminalization of marijuana.

Progress takes persistence, nd the introduction of this bill is another milestone on the path to change.