Marijuana Moment is a wire service assembled by Tom Angell, a marijuana legalization activist and journalist covering marijuana reform nationwide. The views expressed by Angell or Marijuana Moment are neither endorsed by the Globe nor do they reflect the Globe’s views on any subject area.
US Senator Bernie Sanders said Wednesday that Congress should federally legalize marijuana as another step toward enacting policing reform and addressing racial injustices.
During a speech on the Senate floor, Sanders discussed a wide range of changes that he feels should be implemented to policing and criminal justice policies.
The former presidential candidate is one of several policymakers who have recently argued that ending the criminalization of cannabis could mitigate unnecessary law enforcement interactions amid growing outrage about police killings of black people.
“Finally, and certainly not least importantly, we need to legalize marijuana,” he said toward the end of a nearly 25-minute address. “In the midst of the many crises we face as a country, it is absurd that, under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is at Schedule I, along with killer drugs like heroin.”
“State after state have moved to legalize marijuana, and it is time for the federal government to do the same,” he added. “When we talk about police department reform, we must end police officers continuing to arrest, search, or jail the people of our country, predominantly people of color, for using marijuana.”
The senator made similar points during a virtual town hall event with US Senator Cory Booker earlier this month.
Along similar lines, US Representative Lou Correa argued during a House Judiciary Committee markup of policing reform legislation Wednesday that these policy changes should be coupled with ending marijuana prohibition in the name of racial justice.
“Although cannabis reform in terms of its criminalization will not undo the practices that have led to these demonstrations that we’re seeing today, decriminalizing cannabis will be a major step in the right direction,” he said. “Congress, in my opinion, must move to address decriminalizing cannabis.”
Two other members of the House circulated a sign-on letter last week urging fellow lawmakers to keep marijuana reform in mind as a way to further promote racial justice while they debate policing reform legislation.