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Does Bernie Sanders Support Legalizing All Drugs?

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Is Bernie Sanders on board with legalizing not just marijuana but other drugs like cocaine and heroin?

“We need to have an understanding that prohibition against alcohol did not work in the 1920s, and prohibition against marijuana and other drugs is not working today,” he said on Friday. “So it has to be rethought in a very, very fundamental way.”

Decrying the “insanity of this so-called war on drugs,” the independent senator from Vermont said that “if we’re serous about understanding a failed and collapsing criminal justice system, ending the war on drugs is an important part of it.”

He made the comments during a live discussion broadcast on his Facebook page:

Generally decrying the failure of the “war on drugs” is not an uncommon refrain for major politicians these days, but Sanders’s specific reference to the failure of “prohibition” of drugs beyond cannabis suggests that he might be in favor of allowing the use and regulated production of more currently illegal substances.

And it isn’t the first time that the senator, who became the first major presidential candidate to endorse marijuana legalization during his 2016 bid, has appeared to call for the end of prohibition of non-cannabis drugs.

In a 1972 letter, he seemed to endorse broader legalization, writing:

“There are entirely too many laws that regulate human behavior. Let us abolish all laws which attempt to impose a particular brand of morality or ‘right’ on people. Let’s abolish all laws dealing with…drugs…”

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who campaigned on a drug policy reform platform and after the election moved to drop pending marijuana cases, was also part of the Facebook discussion with Sanders.

Earlier this year, Sanders launched a petition saying that the “criminal justice system is not the answer to drug abuse,” but it did not explicitly call for drug legalization.

More recently, he signed on as a cosponsor of Senate legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and withhold federal funding from states with discriminatory cannabis enforcement.

Bernie Sanders Backs Bill To Punish States With Bad Marijuana Laws

Photo courtesy of Lorie Shaull.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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