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Bernie Sanders Endorses Bill to Punish States with Harsh Cannabis Laws

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[dropcap class=”kp-dropcap”]T[/dropcap]his Thursday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders signed on as a co-sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act, a bill that was introduced last year by Sen. Cory Booker. It’s truly interesting, considering that many political voices have speculated that both may go for the Democratic presidential nomination coming up in 2020.

The bill would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, finally ending the disconnect between state and federal law in states that have legalized medical or recreational cannabis. Notably, the bill would also punish states with outdated and detrimental cannabis laws by withholding funding. It would compel courts to expunge past cannabis convictions and allow people to file lawsuits if they were punished under disproportionately enforced cannabis laws.

“We are spending $80 billion locking people up,” Sanders tweeted on April 19. Think about what it would mean if we invested that money in our people instead of more jails

Currently, people of color in America are punished with jail time at disproportionate rates despite consuming cannabis at similar rates compared to white people.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is also a co-sponsor of the bill. On April 19, Sanders joined Booker in a live video chat posted on Facebook, discussing federal cannabis reform.

The money taken from restrictive states would be rerouted to fund job training and libraries. It’s one of the most bold cannabis legalization bills yet.

It’s not the only federal legalization bill in the works, however. On the same day, Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he will soon introduce an entirely separate bill that would also remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances List.

Cannabis reform has proven to be a major selling point, because of its near-universal support from both Democratic and Republican Americans. With possible presidential runs coming up soon in 2020, cannabis has become a major playing card.

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