Bernie Sanders to Call for Removal of Marijuana from Scheduled Drug List


Bernie Sanders, according to The Washington Post, is going to propose that marijuana be removed from the schedule of drugs listed under the Controlled Substances Act. Needless to say, this would be HUGE news with national ramifications, if successful. Marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug, slated as being highly addictive, without any medical properties, a scheduling that goes against science and common sense. Advocates and policymakers have long debated about the proper scheduling of marijuana, with many calling for marijuana to be removed from list of scheduled drugs altogether, just as alcohol and tobacco aren’t listed. Removing cannabis from the list of scheduled drugs would be huge for the cannabis community and industry, effectively allowing states to regulate marijuana as they see fit.

Advocates have long hoped for a bold marijuana policy proposal from Senator Sanders and he has provided good signs that he was moving in such a direction. Sanders is expected to make this important policy proposal during a student town hall at George Mason University that starts at 7pm on the East Coast. (Watch the livestream of the town hall on YouTube!) It is fitting that Sanders would make this announcement to college students as young people greatly support ending cannabis prohibition and are usually the targets of law enforcement actions that can greatly hurt their educational and employment opportunities.

The Washington Post reports:

“Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use,” Sanders says in prepared remarks for the event provided to The Washington Post. “That’s wrong. That has got to change.”

No other presidential candidate has called for marijuana to be completely removed from the schedule of controlled substances regulated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.


Sanders’s plan would not automatically make marijuana legal nationwide, but states would be allowed to regulate the drug in the same way that state and local laws now govern sales of alcohol and tobacco. And people who use marijuana in states that legalize it would no longer be at risk of federal prosecution.

His plan would also allow marijuana businesses currently operating in states that have legalized it to use banking services and apply for tax deductions that are currently unavailable to them under federal law.

If The Washington Post is correct, and Sanders does indeed call for the de-scheduling of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana law reformers will be energized to assist his candidacy even more than they already have as this will put the Vermont Senator’s cannabis policy leaps and bounds above any other serious candidate. The momentum behind the cannabis law reform movement will only increase with such a policy proposal from a leading presidential candidate. Cannabis has medicinal properties and is both less addictive and toxic than alcohol and tobacco, making de-scheduling a common-sense policy. With a majority of Americans support legalizing cannabis legalization, the policy proposal is good politics as well.

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.