In a campaign email yesterday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders outlined his plan to federally legalize cannabis through an executive order in his first 100 days in office if elected. The plan includes expungement of cannabis-related convictions, social equity programs from funds raised from cannabis-derived revenues and would “ensure legalized marijuana does not turn into big tobacco.”
“Why is it that millions of dollars are being made by mostly white, mostly male, and already rich ‘cannabiz’ entrepreneurs in states where marijuana is legal, while the people and communities that were ravaged by the War on Drugs have been shut out of the industry, denied credit, and many are still incarcerated? That is going to change when Bernie is president.” – Nov. 24 Bernie Sanders campaign email
The campaign says Sanders would nominate an attorney general, Health and Human Services secretary, and Drug Enforcement Administration head “who will all work to aggressively end the drug war and legalize marijuana.”
Sanders would, according to the email, base his criminal reform policies on the California model, which directs authorities to review current and past cannabis-related convictions and prosecutors would have one year to “appeal or object, after which authorities will automatically expunge and vacate past marijuana convictions for all those eligible.” The policy would include federal funding for states and cities to partner with organizations that could streamline the process, much like California’s partnership with Code for America. That partnership led to expunging 9,362 felony and misdemeanor cannabis convictions in the state dating back to 1975.Lweg
Taxes from legal cannabis sales would be used, in part, to create a $20 billion grant program within the Minority Business Development Agency “to provide grants to entrepreneurs of color who continue to face discrimination in access to capital,” the campaign says. Another $10 billion grant would be created for cannabusinesses that are at least 51 percent owned or controlled by individuals in areas disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs or those who have been arrested for or convicted of cannabis offenses. A $10 billion program would also be set up in the U.S. Department of Agriculture to start cannabis farms is urban and rural areas most impacted by the drug war. The plan also includes free job training for formerly incarcerated individuals seeking to enter the space.
In order to prevent cannabis from becoming big tobacco, the Sanders plan would incentivize cannabis businesses to be set up like nonprofits, prohibit advertising and labeling aimed at young people, ban companies that have created cancer-causing products or have used deceptive marketing practices, and ban tobacco and cigarette companies from the industry entirely.
Sanders first floated the plan to legalize cannabis via executive order on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast in August.
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