By Roland Sebestyén
The Senate Budget Committee chairman, and well-known cannabis advocate, reiterated that the drug war has been a failure and cannabis should be legalised nationally in the United States.
Marijuana Moment reports that in a town hall meeting, Senator Bernie Sanders reported that Congress is making progress toward ending the drug war and legalising cannabis at the federal level.
He said: “My own view is that the so-called war on drugs has been an abysmal failure. It has destroyed God knows how many lives, disproportionately African American and Latino.
“What you are now seeing is a radical change of consciousness with regard to that war. You are seeing state after state after state legalising cannabis.
“I would legalise cannabis nationally. I am supportive of that. But we are making some progress in state after state.”
Last month, Mr Sanders urged President Joe Biden to use executive authority to end federal cannabis prohibition, saying the president has all the power to do so.
Senator Sanders has long been an advocate for federal cannabis policy reforms, having included the federal legalisation of cannabis in his 2020 Presidential campaign – even claiming he would legalise cannabis on his first day in office. However, in his statement, he revealed that he and the president still have their “differences” when it comes to drug policy in the United States.
Although then Vice-President candidate Kamala Harris reported that – should he be elected – a Biden administration would decriminalise recreational cannabis nationally, we haven’t heard much about the topic from either the president or Ms Harris since Biden’s victory.
As a Senator in the 1980s, Mr Biden introduced a number of bills that aimed to impose stricter punishments on drug dealers.
A decade later, he signed the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which resulted in a massive incarceration of those committing drug offences.
During the presidential campaign, Mr Biden’s spokesperson, Andrew Bates, told CNN: “the [former] Vice President Biden does not believe anyone should be in jail simply for smoking or possessing cannabis.
“He supports decriminalising cannabis and automatically expunging prior criminal records for cannabis possession, so those affected don’t have to figure out how to petition for it or pay for a lawyer.”