Marijuana depenalization makes its way to the U.S Presidential debates

Presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has proposed Marijuana removal from the federal Controlled Substances list.


Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, has recently announced, at a campaign stop in Virginia, his intention to propose in a close future a new legislation that will remove Marijuana from the Controlled Substances list. The Washington Post remarks marijuana depenalization would make possible for States to legalize Marijuana without any impediment from the central government. Sanders’ proposal comes in the right time, as a study from Pew Research Centre shows, the public opinion in this topic has changed drastically since 1969, while only the 12 percent of the population supported Marijuana legalization back them, now the 53 percent does.

Bernie Sander has been for 16 years a congressman in the house of representative and is now serving his second term in the US senate. He is the first candidate to the U.S presidency who publicly support removing this drug from the federal government’s list. By doing so, he aims to prevent Americans to have criminal records due to the use of this substance. We could see clearly his position on the topic in his twitter account “It is obscene that people are getting arrested at near record rates for smoking marijuana, but not one Wall Street CEO has been prosecuted”.

However, Hillary Clinton claimed that she is not in favor of the legalization of this type of drug, but she agrees with Sander of the need to modify the criminal justice punishment for pots. Though Mrs. Clinton refuses to legalize recreational marijuana, she is in favor of its use for medicinal aims.

Not only Democrats seem to favor this measure, 52% of Republican voters agree on legalizing marijuana. When looking at the voter’s ages we can see that millennials (1981-1996) are the ones more in favor of legalizing marihuana, with a 63% of yes. But if we look at what people from other generations think, percentages are much lower. Still, many republicans think that legalizing marijuana is not a solution, even though, they admit that it gives great revenue to all states that have legalized it.  The Republican candidate Donald Trump says that states should have their own laws regarding marijuana use and that no federal laws should be applied. Republicans know that by legalizing marijuana, the state gets a good amount of money due to taxes. In Colorado, $150 millions were collected in one year in taxes due to marijuana sales. The marijuana market also creates jobs and increases the state´s income per capita.

There are four states in the USA where marijuana is legalized for recreational use: Alaska, Oregon, Washington and Colorado. Colorado legalized marijuana last November 2012, by passing Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution. Looking at Colorado example, we can see that Marijuana legalization does not means free access to this drug. There are several restrictions imposed to regulate its use, for instance: one must be over 21 years old to buy it and only licensed stores are allowed to sell it.  Regarding the impact of this measure in Colorado’s criminal records,  the number of arrests for marijuana possession have continually dropped since 2010 and are now down roughly 84 percent.


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