Bernie Sanders reveals 100-day plan to legalize marijuana

“Too many lives were ruined due to the disastrous criminalization of marijuana," the Democratic presidential hopeful tweeted when he released his plan.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks after the senate voted on a resolution ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks after the senate voted on a resolution ending U.S. military support for the war in Yemen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 13, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/JOSHUA ROBERTS)
Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders released his plan to legalize marijuana in a tweet on Thursday at 4:20 PM. The announcement tweet, which is now pinned to the top of Sanders’ Twitter page, outlines three main points.
“Too many lives were ruined due to the disastrous criminalization of marijuana. Today I am releasing my plan to: Legalize marijuana with executive action, Expunge past marijuana convictions, Invest in communities most affected by the War on Drugs,” Sanders tweeted.

In the plan, Sanders pledges to legalize marijuana within the first 100 days of his presidency and called the War on Drugs “disastrous,” saying it “has disproportionately targeted people of color and ruined the lives of millions of Americans.”
“Today, the government considers marijuana as dangerous as heroin. That’s idiotic. As president I will immediately issue an executive order to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance,” Sanders tweeted.

The first step in his plan is nominating an attorney general, Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary and administrator for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who will “aggressively” work to end the War on Drugs and legalize marijuana. Sanders also declares in his first step that he will issue an executive order “that directs the Attorney General to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance.”
Sanders is calling on Congress to act to end the war on drugs, but also makes it clear that he “will not wait for Congress to act.”
The next step involves vacating and expunging marijuana-related convictions.
“In a Sanders administration we will review all marijuana convictions – both federal and state – for expungement and re-sentencing. All past convictions will be expunged,” Sanders wrote in the plan. He says that states that “develop and operate” the process of expungement will be offered federal funding, citing California’s work with Code for America. The Democratic presidential hopeful says that California is the base for his plan.
In the third part of the plan, Sanders pledges that revenue from the legalization of marijuana will be invested “in communities hit harder by the War on Drugs.” He then outlines what he will do with tax revenue from marijuana sales, including setting up a $20 billion grant program to “provide grants to entrepreneurs of color.” Sanders has a second $10 billion grant program planned, which will “focus on businesses that are at least 51% owned or controlled by those in disproportionately impacted areas or individuals who have been arrested for or convicted of marijuana offenses.”
Going beyond the legalization of the drug, Sanders looks to ensure that the marijuana industry will not become like the tobacco industry. Despite the fact that major tobacco companies have already taken steps to enter into the marijuana industry, Sanders wants to ban them from participating in it.
He also wants to offer marijuana businesses incentives to be structured as nonprofits, rather than corporations.
Sanders’ legalization plan touches on drug safety as well, including regulating marijuana, banning “companies that have created cancer-causing products or are guilty of deceptive marketing,” and banning companies from advertising to “young people.” He also plans on partnering with the USDA to “establish safety inspection and quality control processes for growers and producers.”

He released his plan at 4:20 p.m., a number and time commonly used to refer to marijuana or the act of smoking marijuana.
Sanders is polling at 16%, just behind Senator Elizabeth Warren at 19% and far behind former vice president Joe Biden, who is polling at 34%, according to a CNN poll from October 23.