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Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders Supports Decriminalizing Marijuana

By Jonah Bennett

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In a question-and-answer session on Reddit Tuesday, Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stated that he supports the decriminalization of marijuana and hinted at the possibility of full legalization.

Last year when speaking to Time Magazine in an interview, Sanders said that while he approves of increased access to medical marijuana, at least in his mind, legalization is not “one of the major issues facing our country.” He did not explicitly mention decriminalization.

Now that Sanders’ name is in the running for the 2016 presidential election, one of the first questions voters appear interested in is the status of marijuana in the U.S.

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“Let me just say this — the state of Vermont voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and I support that,” Sanders said on the Reddit AMA in response to a question about drug policy. “I have supported the use of medical marijuana. And when I was mayor of Burlington, in a city with a large population, I can tell you very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana. Our police had more important things to do.”

Sanders said he’s paying very close attention to the results of marijuana legalization in Colorado, both the benefits and the costs. As the campaign unfolds, Sanders promised to have more to say about legalization in the next few months.

“It’s really exciting to have Sen. Sanders express unequivocal support for decriminalization and medical marijuana,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “And reading between the lines, it seems to me like he’s getting ready to endorse full legalization soon. Having his voice in the presidential race is going to force all the other candidates to also address the issue and will make it much more likely they’ll take favorable positions as well.”

Sanders has previously signed his name on legislation that would reschedule marijuana from Schedule 1 to a Schedule II drug.

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