Bernie Sanders Has A Plan That Could Revolutionize Nation’s Marijuana Industry Beyond Just Legalization

Bernie Sanders has a chance to make history in 2016, and not just by winning the presidential election.

Sanders is poised to make some giant leaps toward ending the prohibition of marijuana, which has long been an aim of the left-leaning Vermont Senator. His plan could do more than simply legalize the drug, but instead open it up for important medical research and create a true marijuana industry in the United States.

Throughout his campaign, Sanders has called for the federal government to move marijuana off the schedule of illegal drugs, and wants other states to follow in the footsteps of Colorado, which has found that legalizing and taxing marijuana is good for business in the state.

“The time is long overdue for us to take marijuana off the federal government’s list of outlawed drugs,” he said late last month, via The Atlantic. “In my view, states should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern sales of alcohol and tobacco.”

Now Bernie Sanders is being even more direct in his call to end the criminalization of marijuana. At a rally this weekend, he vowed to take the drug off the Federal Controlled Substance Act entirely.

While Bernie Sanders is not the only one calling for laws regarding marijuana to be loosened — Republican Rand Paul also wants to end the ban on medical marijuana, and Hillary Clinton has hinted toward taking it off the schedule of illegal substances — Sanders has staked the most clear and concise stance on the matter.

That is why a Bernie Sanders victory could do more for marijuana legalization than any of the steps taken so far. Even in states like Colorado, where the drug is now fully legal and even part of a major tourism push, the marijuana business has yet to fully bloom due to restrictive federal laws.

As the Washington Post‘s Christopher Ingraham wrote, companies that grow and distribute marijuana are finding that banks are reluctant to deal with them. These banks are afraid of violating federal laws, meaning the businesses are stuck holding onto large amounts of cash and are ripe targets for robbery.

Forbes noted that 2016 is shaping up to be the biggest step forward for marijuana nationwide, even bigger than 2015 when four states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana and several more states decriminalized it.

In Congress, there is a bi-partisan bill that would allow states to more easily legalize medical marijuana and re-schedule it as a schedule II drug. This would knock down barriers to researching marijuana’s medicinal uses and allow banks to do business with marijuana companies.

As the report noted, Bernie Sanders has sponsored a slew of bills that would end marijuana prohibition, make it easier for states to legalize the drug, and give a clean slate for people with marijuana arrests.

Removing federal restrictions could also help medical researchers better understand the benefits of marijuana. Already the drug is an effective tool for fighting a number of conditions, including epilepsy, and some medical experts believe it can do much more if researchers were able to fully understand it.

Of course, Bernie Sanders still has quite a mountain to climb before he can move marijuana legalization forward. He first has to overcome a large deficit from front runner Hillary Clinton, and his stronger stances on marijuana may win him support with younger voters, but this is an area where he already polls quite well, and with a group that doesn’t traditionally turn out to the polls. But even if he doesn’t win, Bernie Sanders may be able to push the issue of marijuana legalization more to the forefront, or at least force Hillary Clinton to take a stronger stand on the issue to win Sanders’s voters over for the general election.

[Picture by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]

11 thoughts on “Bernie Sanders Has A Plan That Could Revolutionize Nation’s Marijuana Industry Beyond Just Legalization

  1. I’m already committed to vote for him, but this is another reason.
    I just hope he adds rules that the dispensaries have to provide proof of THC/CBD levels and what pesticides were used to grow it.
    Those rules don’t exist in AZ, So you dont know what youre getting. Not OK when you’re buying for medical reasons.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve been ‘researching’ cannabis for 47 years. The only bad experience I’ve ever had was spending 5 years in Federal Prison for a pot offense.
    Other than that, all things hunky-dory…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I bought what I was told was 18% CBD/5% THC, which should mean no “high”.
      I immediately got dizzy and heart rate went thru the roof. Shouldnt have happened.
      I was a long term pot smoker in my 30s, so not a novice. But I paid a high price for what I thought was medicinal mj, to treat my.COPD and arthritis. Didn’t want to get high, certainly didn’t want to have a heart attack.
      So I wasted $250 on product I can’t use.
      The dispensary provided no proof of tests on what they sold me, said they don’t test.
      I don’t understand how they can get away with selling “medicinals ” with no proof of what they are selling.


      • The only place I’ve bought ‘legal pat’ was in Colorado… at a retail marijuana store.
        Each package was clearly marked as to the strain and THC content…minimum 24%. I’ve never tried the high CBD.


  3. My greatest fear is that if Bernie Sanders were elected republicans treat him like they’ve treated President Obama .
    Does any one think the country could stand 8 more years of republican obstructionism and hate from the right ?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. MP Bill Blair, the former chief of the Toronto Police, is the Liberal government’s point man on marijuana legalization. (Dave Chan For The Globe and Mail)
    Ex-colleague will lobby MP Bill Blair to restrict field of pot growers
    OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
    Published Sunday, Jan. 10, 2016 10:01PM EST

    A former high-ranking colleague and friend of MP Bill Blair, the Liberal government’s point man on marijuana legalization, will lobby the ex-Toronto police chief in hopes of ensuring a tightly controlled system in which only licensed firms are allowed to grow the lucrative drug.

    Kim Derry, a deputy chief of the Toronto Police Service under Mr. Blair, is a promoter of marijuana facility THC Meds Ontario Inc., along with George Smitherman, a former Ontario Liberal deputy premier. Mr. Blair, put in charge of the marijuana file last week, will play a key role in determining who gets to grow the product once it is legalized.

    While some growers want loosely regulated production across the country, the operators of companies such as THC Meds say production licences should be limited to professional operations.

    In an interview, Mr. Derry said the government should aim to “get rid of the goons” who are currently in the marijuana business, calling for tight regulations on who can grow and sell the product.

    “If there isn’t, it will be the wild west,” Mr. Derry said. “If you just open it up and allow everybody to grow this stuff and distribute it however they want, it will be an absolute mess.”

    Mr. Derry said he’s looking forward to making his views known to Mr. Blair. “He and I have been friends for 40 odd years, so I’ll certainly give him my opinion, whether he asks for it or not,” said Mr. Derry, the security adviser for THC Meds Ontario, which is seeking a licence for a medical marijuana operation north of Toronto.

    In a separate interview, Mr. Smitherman said Mr. Blair’s appointment to oversee the legalization of marijuana bodes well for companies like his.

    “I don’t think we are going toward a model where legalization means you should grow some stuff in your backyard,” said Mr. Smitherman. “I’m of the opinion that a preponderance of caution around growing and distribution will guide the government’s model.”

    Mr. Blair could not be reached by The Globe and Mail after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called on him to be a lead player on the issue of the legalization of marijuana.

    To this point, much of the public debate surrounding the legalization of marijuana has focused on who would sell the product to the Canadian public, with provincial liquor control boards among the early favourites.

    Still, Vancouver lawyer Kirk Tousaw said it is also important to liberalize the production of cannabis, pointing to American states where companies can sell the products that they grow.

    “If we treat this like nuclear waste, it won’t work. Even if we treat it like alcohol, it may not work that well,” he said. “You have got to allow people to grow it for themselves.… It’s not really legalization if you are kicking people’s doors down and hauling them off to jail for growing the plant.”

    Mr. Tousaw, who has represented many clients in high-profile marijuana-related cases, said Mr. Blair’s law-enforcement credentials are a cause for some concern at this point.

    “People are creatures of their histories. If what you have seen of cannabis is gang violence and those kinds of things, I think you will have a perspective that is not necessarily in tune with the reality on the ground,” Mr. Tousaw said.

    Still, he said he is looking forward to seeing who will be appointed to the Liberal government’s promised federal-provincial task force that will conduct consultations on the issue.

    Mr. Tousaw said there will be problems if the new model is underregulated, which means public safety goals would not be achieved, or overregulated, in which the legal business would not be able to compete with the existing black market.

    First elected to the House in the past election, Mr. Blair was appointed last December as the parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould.

    “[Mr.] Blair’s experience and background in public safety will be a great asset to the government’s work to ensure a careful and thoughtful approach to the legalization and regulation of marijuana,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould’s spokesman said in a statement last Friday.
    Follow Daniel Leblanc on Twitter: @danlebla



    Marijuana Use May Be a One-Way Ticket to Socioeconomic Problems, Study Shows
    Sean Williams, The Motley Fool
    Published 10:41 am, Saturday, April 9, 2016

    This is shaping up to be a monumental year for the marijuana industry, and it just happens to be a coincidence that it comes 20 years after California became the first state to legalize the drug for medicinal purposes.

    Marijuana readies for a big year

    There have certainly been a few bumps over the last two decades for the marijuana industry, but as a whole its expansion persists at a steady pace. There are currently 23 states that have legalized marijuana for medical use, with a possible 24th on the way if Pennsylvania’s state Senate passes a bill just approved by the state’s House of Representatives. There are also four states (Washington, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska) that have legalized the use of recreational marijuana for adults ages 21 and up.

    Colorado has been a shining example of how medical and recreational marijuana can contribute economically. Sales of medical and recreational marijuana combined to come ever-so-close to tipping the scales at $1 billion last year and managed to grow by 42% year-over-year. Tax revenue and licensing fees generated in Colorado totaled approximately $135 million. This $135 million may not be the glue that holds a big budget together, but it does provide extra capital to schools, law enforcement, and drug abuse programs within the state

    And this year could be even bigger.

    It’s an election year, and it’s possible that a dozen or more states could put medical, recreational, or medical and recreational initiatives (looking at you Ohio) in front of voters. President Obama has suggested that the best way to get Congress’s attention is to keep passing marijuana laws at the state level, and this would certainly fit that bill.

    Long-term marijuana use is bad news, study shows

    Arguably the only thing holding marijuana back from taking a step to the next level is Congress. And the only thing holding Congress back from considering marijuana for nationwide approval is the absence of a clear and concise group of studies suggesting marijuana is safe for long-term users.

    Unfortunately for marijuana supporters, that’s not the headline of a recently released study from the University of California, Davis and Duke University.
    The study, conducted by researchers at both universities, sought to establish whether cannabis was safer than alcohol.

    Previous studies have demonstrated that marijuana is substantially “safer” than alcohol when it comes to overdoses. More specifically, there were no marijuana overdoses leading to deaths in 2014. By contrast, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes, via a Vital Signs report, that there are more than 2,200 alcohol poisoning deaths in the United States per year. Presumably, this also means medical care tied to marijuana is likely cheaper than medical care tied to alcohol.

    However, researchers from UC Davis and Duke University discovered something truly unique in their findings. After following a group of children born in Dunedin, New Zealand from their birth in 1972-1973 through age 38, and assessing their changes in health over their lifetime, researchers made a shocking discovery: heavy and persistent cannabis use had negative repercussions on people socially and financially.

    Even after accounting for a number of factors which could have swayed the results, such as childhood socioeconomic problems, lower IQ, antisocial behavior, depression, and a host of other factors, researchers came to the same results over and over. As noted in the report:

    The team found that regular cannabis users experienced downward social mobility and more financial problems such as troubles with debt and cash flow than those who did not report such persistent use. They also had more antisocial behaviors at work, such as stealing money or lying to get a job, and experienced more relationship problems, such as intimate partner violence and controlling abuse.

    In fact, in some aspects — downward social mobility, antisocial behaviors in the workplace, and relationship conflict — researchers found heavy and persistent marijuana use to be more dangerous than alcohol dependence.

    Study leader Magdalena Cerda had this to say,

    “This is an important finding, given the common conception that cannabis is safer than alcohol. Alcohol is still a bigger problem than cannabis because alcohol use is more prevalent than cannabis use. But, as the legalization of cannabis increases around the world, the economic and social burden posed by regular cannabis use could increase as well.”

    Highlighting marijuana’s many obstacles ahead
    If this study from UC Davis and Duke University demonstrates anything, it’s that nationwide approval of marijuana at the federal level is still likely to be a long ways off (if it ever occurs).

    The good news for marijuana legalization supporters is that one study alone isn’t going to define marijuana’s safety profile. The downside to this is lawmakers are going to want to see a compendium of long-term safety studies on marijuana before they even consider changing their stance on the drug. In sum, it probably means many more years of the marijuana plant remaining a schedule 1 substance (i.e., illicit, and with no medical benefits) at the federal level.

    For marijuana legalization supporters that’s disappointing, but for marijuana businesses it could mean the difference between surviving or not. You see, inaction at the federal level has two dire consequences on the marijuana industry.

    First, even though the marijuana plant remains illegal at the federal level, the federal government still expects companies within the industry (growers, processors, and retailers) to pay corporate income taxes. As a further jab, businesses that sell substances that are considered to be illicit by the federal government aren’t allowed to take normal business deductions. It ultimately means that marijuana businesses are brutally overtaxed.

    The other issue is that banks generally want nothing to do with marijuana-based companies. Although state-level legalizations have allowed for some workarounds for banks should they want to offer basic banking services, such as a checking account or line of credit, to marijuana companies, most banks (about 97%) have chosen to avoid the industry altogether. This leaves marijuana businesses stuck with cash as their only mode of currency in many instances, which isn’t all too secure.

    Some investors view marijuana’s growth opportunity as the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I view it as a dangerous opportunity at present. Without access to capital, and while paying a burdensome tax rate, it’s going to make survival that much tougher for marijuana businesses. Until we see real change at the federal level, marijuana isn’t worth your investment. And unfortunately, it could be a long time before that happens.


    • On the study that reports socio and economic repercussions from long term use :
      People who have emotional challenges will self medicate. Some use alcohol, some use meth, some use MJ.
      That doesn’t make MJ bad, it just means like any other substance, it should be used responsibly.
      I know plenty of successful people who have used MJ for their whole adult lives with no downward spiral associated.
      I also know plenty of alcoholics whose lives have been devastated by their drinking.
      It all comes down to the freedom to make our own choices in an intelligent way.
      Prohibition didn’t work, making MJ illegal doesn’t work. Even in medical MJ states most people can’t afford product and are still prevented from growing their own.
      I can grow my own food, but not my own medicine.
      I’m 68, not interested in being stoned, but would sure like to have one plant growing in my yard to add to my herbal tea for relief from my COPD and arthritis.
      Don’t understand why the government thinks they have the right to take this freedom away from me.

      Liked by 1 person

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