Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is happy that legal marijuana sales are coming to his home state.
“Let me congratulate the state legislature for making Vermont the 11th state in the country to legalize marijuana and also for expunging past marijuana convictions,” the former Democratic presidential candidate posted on Twitter on Friday.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) announced this week that he would allow a bill to legalize cannabis sales to become law without his signature, while he signed separate legislation to facilitate the expungement of past marijuana convictions.
“Now, it is time for Congress and the federal government to end the war on drugs and legalize marijuana nationwide,” Sanders added in his tweet.
Let me congratulate the state legislature for making Vermont the 11th state in the country to legalize marijuana and also for expunging past marijuana convictions. Now, it is time for Congress and the federal government to end the war on drugs and legalize marijuana nationwide.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) October 9, 2020
During his run for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, Sanders pledged to legalize marijuana in all 50 states on his first day in office—a prospect that some legal experts met with skepticism.
After Sanders conceded the nomination to former Vice President Joe Biden (D), both former rivals formed a criminal justice task force that convened earlier this year and issued various recommendations on policies they feel should be adopted.
Advocates hoped the panel would push the former vice president to back legalization with the support of the Sanders appointees, but it did not and Biden remains opposed to the broader policy change despite supermajority Democratic support for the reform. The Democratic nominee instead supports decriminalizing cannabis possession, expunging past records, modest federal rescheduling, legalizing medical marijuana and letting states set their own policies.
The Democratic National Committee’s platform committee also rejected an amendment to make legalization a 2020 party plank. Some suspect this was because they didn’t want to endorse a policy that’s at odds with that of the nominee.
Also on Friday, Sanders tweeted statistics about marijuana arrests in the U.S.
“In America, no one should get arrested for possessing marijuana. Let’s end the drug war, legalize marijuana and expunge marijuana convictions,” he said.
Number of Americans arrested for possessing marijuana in 2019: 500,395
Number of Americans arrested for violent crimes in 2019: 495,871
In America, no one should get arrested for possessing marijuana. Let's end the drug war, legalize marijuana and expunge marijuana convictions.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 9, 2020
There’s no indication that Sanders will be taking advantage of Vermont’s new cannabis law when legal sales come online, which is expected in 2022.
The senator previously said that he smoked marijuana decades ago but that the plant “didn’t do much for me.”
“I smoked marijuana twice and all I did was cough my guts out, so it didn’t work for me,” he said at one rally in Las Vegas. “But I do understand other people have had different experiences.”
“My recollection is I nearly coughed my brains out, so it’s not my cup of tea,” he added in a radio interview.
Vermont legalized low-level possession and home cultivation of marijuana back in 2018, but has not had a way for consumers to legally purchase cannabis. That will change under the new law.