The U.S. Presidential elections, slated for next fall, could usher in radical changes in federal laws related to cannabis. Nearly every contender for the Democratic Party nomination for President has voiced support for legalizing marijuana at the federal level. And at least one Presidential hopeful, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is promising to sidestep Congress entirely to do so by executive order.
Sanders’ promise came during an August 13 appearance on the Joe Rogen Experience podcast. “We’ve got to legalize marijuana,” Sanders said. “I believe we can do that through executive order and I will do that.”
An executive order is a directive issued by the President which has the force of law. President Donald Trump has issued more than 100 executive orders since taking office 29 months ago. These orders have addressed a variety of issues, from funding for a wall along the border with Mexico to combatting the opioid crisis.
Sanders, when asked by Rogen about the case for federal legalization, characterized the treatment of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, which gives legal equivalency to marijuana and heroin, as “insane.”
Sanders also noted that a lot has changed since 2016, when he was the only Presidential hopeful advocating for reform of federal marijuana laws. Today, every major Presidential challenger has come out in favor of legalization, except Joe Biden. “What seemed kind of radical, the need to legalize and decriminalize marijuana is spreading all over the country,” Sanders said.
Today, marijuana is legal for recreational and/or medicinal uses in about three dozen states.
Sanders during his appearance on the Joe Rogen podcast additionally referenced a growing number of state initiatives to expunge the records of individuals convicted of low-level cannabis crimes. “That is the right thing to do,” he said.