In a new book published this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders didn’t hold back on a range of topics, including criticisms of both the Democrat and Republican parties. But it’s Sanders’ words on the failed War on Drugs that should reverberate across party lines, as cannabis reform could be a bigger issue come the 2020 election.
Sanders blasted cannabis prohibition in Where We Go from Here: Two Years in the Resistance, his political memoir published Tuesday, Marijuana Moment first highlighted. This should be no surprise for longtime fans of Sanders, as he was the first presidential candidate in history to publicly support removing cannabis from the government’s list of controlled substances.
“How many young people’s lives got off to a bad start because of a police record related to marijuana?” Sanders writes in the book, adding how difficult essential tasks like applying for a job or college can become with a possession record.
“The good news is that many states and cities across the country are taking action to undo the damage caused by the war on drugs,” Sanders also writes. “More and more states are moving to decriminalize or legalize the possession of marijuana, and some have passed legislation to expunge prior misdemeanor convictions.”
Again, Sanders’ position isn’t exactly new. Earlier this year, he couldn’t help ribbing then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions for rescinding legislation that protected states with legalized cannabis.
“Marijuana is not the same as heroin. No one who has seriously studied the issue believes that marijuana should be classified as a Schedule 1 drug beside killer drugs like heroin,” Sanders said at the time.
Speaking at George Washington University Tuesday to promote the book, Sanders hedged his bets about another possible campaign in 2020. He’d only consider it if it became clear he was the strongest candidate to defeat Donald Trump. However, he emphasized that voters should focus on policy issues, instead of the “personality politics” that governs our current moment.
“What we learned is that the American people, including many conservatives, understand that we need fundamental reform of a broken criminal justice system, which includes by the way, ending this disastrous so-called war on drugs, which has destroyed many lives,” Sanders said.