Bernie Sanders: States Should be Able to Legalize Cannabis “Without Restrictions”


Hat tip to Tom Angell over at, who we first saw post about Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments on cannabis law and greater Drug War reform in an interview with Little Village, a public access program on Iowa public access radio. The progressive Democratic presidential candidate stated, “What the federal government can do is say to the state of Colorado that if you choose to vote to legalize marijuana, we will allow you to do that without restrictions.”

From Mr. Angell’s piece over at

“In Colorado people who run marijuana shops can’t put their money in banks,” he said. “That’s a violation of federal law. So I think there are things that the federal government can do that would make it easier for states that want to go in that direction to be able to do so.”

Earlier in the interview with reporter Stacey Walker, which was taped on September 4, Sanders raised concerns about broader criminal justice issues, including mandatory minimum sentencing and private prisons. “To keep people out of jail I think we want to take a hard look at the war on drugs,” he said. “We want to make sure that we’re not ruining people’s lives because they were caught with some marijuana, for example.”


“We’re exploring the pluses and minuses — of which there are both — of moving more aggressively on that issue. It is a very important issue. We’re watching what Colorado is doing, and we’ll have more to say about that in the coming weeks and months.”

These comments by the surging Sanders are consistent with statements he’s made throughout the campaign. The anti-establishment candidate has declared the Drug War a failure, stated his intention to introduce legislation that would abolish private prisons and has signalled a willingness to legalize marijuana. Sanders’ statement that the federal government should allow states that have legalized marijuana to do so “without restrictions” is basically repealing cannabis prohibition at the federal level, allowing states to enact their own marijuana laws, just as our nation does with alcohol.

With Hillary Clinton’s alleged evolution on marijuana policy, Governor Martin O’Malley listening to the Colorado cannabis community and Sanders positive statements, supporters of sensible cannabis policies are in good shape on the Democratic side. With most Republicans, from Donald Trump to Jeb Bush, supporting a states’ rights position, save for Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, and a number of states poised to place positive reform measures on the ballot, marijuana legalization supporters should be optimistic about the 2016 election.