Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has always been vocal about his support for cannabis reforms in the country. Some days ago, Sen. Sanders expressed how he feels about the current administration and its stand on legalizing federal cannabis reforms.
He went on to express his opinions about President Biden and the federal war on drugs that has gone on for as long as anyone can remember.
The Interview with Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders was on-air with Krystal Ball, co-host of the podcast Krystal, Kyle & Friends. The interview was done to assess the Biden Administration with a focus on the failed campaign promises.
Marijuana legalization was one of the focal points that President Joe Biden capitalized on during his campaign trail. However, since he got to the office in February, he has not made any effort to begin legislation processes on legalizing pot.
In this 30 minutes long interview, Krystal Ball pressed Bernie Sanders on what he feels about the inaction of the president on legalizing marijuana amidst other things.
“If President Biden chooses to, he can decriminalize cannabis”
Sanders said that the president could accelerate the process of ending cannabis prohibition in the country. But, the president is not on board with this idea for now.
The members of the administration have differing opinions when it comes to cannabis reforms. Joe Biden has been reported in the past to refer to the drug as a “gateway” drug, whereas Kamala Harris has always been an avid supporter of cannabis reforms.
In his words, Sanders said, “Biden can’t snap his finger and make these things happen on his own”. There’s little the president can do until everyone is on board with the cannabis policies being proposed. Immediately he made this statement, Krystal listed some items that the president could get done with executive action. One of the mentioned items includes ” changing cannabis’s federal classification”.
The Presidency Has The Legal Right To Legalize Cannabis Federally
Sen. Sanders maintained that the president could do this, but unilaterally.
Before the president can carry out any executive action to review the classification of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, a petition has to be filed by either the secretary of the department of health and human services or an outside party. Afterwhich, the petition has to be assessed and scrutinized by the Attorney General of the country.
Oftentimes, the Attorney General assigns this type of drug-related responsibility to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
It is important to point out that the executive would arrive at unforeseeable challenges from the opposition. If the president decides to do this on his own, there’s a high probability that he won’t get far.
Trying to reschedule cannabis through the executive branch might seem complex, but it is relatively easier than going through the legislative branch.
The Attorney General Has The Power To Kickstart Cannabis Legalization Process
Another person that has the power to begin the process on their own is the Attorney General of the country.
This begins by asking the HHS for a scientific review of the drug. After the review, the Food and Drug Administration has to carry out scientific research, medical and public health-related evaluations, as well as consider the implication of the drug on these factors.
Then a task is carried out before all reviews are submitted to the Justice Department of the United States of America. All these must be done for the drug to be properly reclassified under federal laws.
Joe Biden does not share Bernie Sander’s outlook on ending federal cannabis prohibition
Senator Bernie Sanders believes that the war on drugs has been nothing but a disaster for the colored community in the country, especially the African-American community.
He said, ” I think it should end, I think marijuana should be legalized”.
He acknowledged the differences between his stance and the president’s stance on the war on drugs.
Just last month, in July, the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki stated that nothing has changed regarding Biden’s opposing stance on rescheduling cannabis.
To enact a policy change, the president’s mind has to be changed to accommodate these reforms.
Bernie Sanders’ Presidential campaign run.
Sanders has tried to run for president twice. He never got his party’s ticket due to defeat at the primary elections.
In his last run during the primaries in 2020, he also made confident promises to legalize marijuana throughout the country, leaving state governments with the option of maintaining or removing the prohibition of drugs within the state.
When he made such promises during his campaign, some people challenged his approach. Their reason being that there are unique challenges that would be encountered if the president decided to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act without involving the other arms of government.
Sanders was part of a criminal task force that was charged with recommending policies for the incoming president to take on. Marijuana legalization failed to make the list.
About two-thirds of Americans are all in favor of cannabis reforms nationwide. From lifting the prohibitions to releasing inmates in prisons, as well as clearing the records of non-violent cannabis offenders.
For these people, it has been quite disappointing to observe that the promises made by the president during his campaign were nothing but empty promises.
Regardless of how modest the reforms would have been, the majority would have understood that the Federal government was taking steps.
All the Biden administration has done regarding cannabis is that they terminated the appointment of some White House staffers over marijuana-related reasons. President Biden also attempted at a point to block Washington, D.C from approving cannabis sales; he did this by choosing to extend a budget provision.
For now, it seems that only congress can achieve the mission of approving progressive cannabis reforms nationwide. It should be stated that this is also shaky as the measure may not get sufficient backing from other senators, seeing that the Democrats hold just a slim majority over the Republicans.
Hopefully, Biden changes his stance on cannabis reforms and makes this process easier.
It’s high time President Joe Biden accepts that cannabis can do more good than bad in the country right now!
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