A bill was introduced in the Senate on Wednesday by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that would end federal prohibition on marijuana and allow legalization to be determined by the states.
The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015 states that it would limit the application of federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marijuana, ultimately removing all references to cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act.
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The Huffington Post noted that Sanders’s bill is modeled after one that was proposed by Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) in 2013 and reintroduced in 2015 as the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.
“Just as alcohol prohibition failed in the 1920s, it’s clear marijuana prohibition is failing today,” Polis said. “For decades, the federal ban on marijuana has wasted tax dollars, impeded our criminal justice system, lined the pockets of drug cartels, and trampled on states’ ability to set their own public health laws.”
Polis described the introduction of the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act in the Senate as “a huge step forward in the movement to enact the commonsense drug laws needed to grow our economy and restore fairness to our justice system.”
Although recreational marijuana is legal in Washington, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and the District of Columbia, it remains illegal under federal law.
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Leslie Bocskor, a managing partner of Electrum Partners, a medical marijuana consulting firm, told Yahoo News that he believes removing marijuana from the federal government’s list of banned substances would “alleviate several unwanted byproducts of the U.S. war on drugs.”
[pull_quote_center]This includes reducing our rate of incarceration for nonviolent offenders, addressing racial injustice enabled by the criminalization of marijuana not to mention increased tax revenue, a regulated marketplace keeping marijuana out of the hands of children, job creation, the destruction of criminal cartels by removing their revenue streams and keeping wealth in the communities that have established regulated frameworks.[/pull_quote_center]
The Marijuana Policy Project, a marijuana reform organization, noted that while Sanders’ bill is the fourth one seeking marijuana policy reform, it is the first bill that actually proposes the end of federal marijuana prohibition.
While cannabis has been known to help with diseases such as cancer, epilepsy and Crohn’s disease, the Drug Enforcement Administration defines marijuana as a Schedule I drug, or one of “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”
On the DEA’s list of drugs, marijuana is alongside substances including heroin, LSD and ecstasy, while cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone are listed as less hazardous Schedule II drugs.
Last year, Ben Swann examined the federal government’s classification of marijuana, seen in the video below. While marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, the government also holds patents on the substance to treat various diseases and conditions.