Bernie Sanders yesterday outlined his plans to legalise marijuana within a hundred days if he was elected to office in 2020, and even better, he tweeted it at 4.20pm Eastern time.
If you're confused as to why this is relevant, 420 is a phrase often used to reference smoking weed. It's origins, according to Chris Conrad, curator of the Oaksterdam Cannabis Museum in Oakland, California, came after a group of high schoolers in the 1970s would use the term as code for getting high, referncing the time that they would meet after school. Since then the number has taken on a life of its own and is also used to mark 420 Day, an unofficial day that takes place every year on the 20th of April (or 4/20 to use American systems) where people gather in parks and public places across North America, Australia and the UK (Hyde Park next year if you're asking) to openly smoke weed. It comes from an American bill that criminalises the use of marijuana, called the 420 bill. Clever aye? So it's pretty apt that Bernie announced it at exactly that moment. He understands the youth!
Too many lives were ruined due to the disastrous criminalization of marijuana. Today I am releasing my plan to:
Sanders rolled out his plan to decriminalise the drug which is already technically legal in eleven states across America, but still illegal on a federal level. He would change that by signing an executive order to declassify the drug as a controlled substance, thus legalising it at a federal level. Secondly he says he would then push congress to pass a bill ensuring a permanent legalisaton. Sanders is mindful of ensuring that the changes in law help various ethnic communities throughout America who have been unfairly victimised due to cannabis use, whilst also not handing big business a blank cheque with which to capitalise on the situation.
Sanders said he would also push for those who have been convicted of marijuana related offences to have their sentences reduced or pardoned. He said the tax revenue from the drug would be used to “help disproportionately impacted areas and individuals who have been arrested for or convicted of marijuana offences start urban and rural farms and urban and rural marijuana growing operations,” plus a $10 billion fund to “provide grants to communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs.”
Sanders would stop tobacco giants cashing in by banning them from selling the drug, as well as financially incentivising new business to be non-profit, and ensure no businesses can target young people or be enabled to use deceptive marketing when advertising products.
Other candidates including Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris have also pledged their intention to legalise the drug if elected to office, and it's a hot topic for election hopefuls.