Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said he’s still “thinking about” a possible run for the presidency in 2020—and if he does run, it’s a safe bet that marijuana reform will be one of his priorities.
That might not be news to anyone who followed Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign, during which he regularly railed against the failed drug war and made a powerful call for federal cannabis legalization while introducing the Senate’s first-ever bill to deschedule marijuana. But in his new book, “Where We Go from Here: Two Years in the Resistance,” the senator again emphasized the harms of prohibition.
“How many young people’s lives got off to a bad start because of a police record related to marijuana?” he writes, noting that even a simple possession conviction can make it more difficult to find a job, rent an apartment or get admitted to college.
“The good news is that many states and cities across the country are taking action to undo the damage caused by the war on drugs,” Sanders says in the book, which was released on Tuesday. “More and more states are moving to decriminalize or legalize the possession of marijuana, and some have passed legislation to expunge prior misdemeanor convictions.”
“The prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s was a failed policy. The prohibition of marijuana has also failed.”
Speaking at George Washington University on Tuesday, Sanders talked about some of the main points in his book, which reflects on the last two years under President Donald Trump’s administration and makes arguments for progressive policies moving forward.
Sanders—who has co-sponsored several far-reaching marijuana reform bills and called on supporters to pressure Congress to legalize cannabis— said a lot of lessons can be drawn from the national conversation around issues like mass incarceration and police brutality.
“What we learned is that the American people, including many conservatives, understand that we need fundamental reform of a broken criminal justice system, which includes by the way, ending this disastrous so-called war on drugs, which has destroyed many lives,” he said in the speech.
Sanders also fielded a question on many people’s minds as we head into 2020 presidential campaign season: Is he going to run?
It wasn’t a question he seemed especially enthusiastic about answering, Politico reported, as the senator has maintained that voters should remain focused on policy matters and not what he described as “personality politics.” Nonetheless, he conceded that he’s considering another campaign and would be inclined to run if it was clear that he’d be able to defeat Trump.
“The issue is not ego,” he said. “It is the understanding that we’re in a pivotal moment in American history.”
Photo courtesy of Phil Roeder.