Following apparent confirmation of Sanders’ plan to legalize cannabis nationwide in the Washington Post last week, as per the policy proposal released last October, there was more good news on the front at last night’s packed rally in Cedar Rapids.
Sanders went a step further than his earlier pledge to legalize cannabis within the first 100 days of his administration, pledging to legalize it on his first day in office, as part of his commitment to end what he described as “the destructive war on drugs.”
Sanders had led the Democratic field in advocating for progressive drug policy, though others including Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Andrew Yang and Tom Steyer have also advocated for varying degrees of decriminalization.
The United States has the world’s largest prison population, with over 2 million people currently incarcerated, and nearly 50 percent of the over 80,000 prisoners in the federal system were convicted of some sort of drug crime.
A 2015 Human Rights Watch/ACLU study found that an American is arrested for drug possession every 25 seconds, or 1.3 million per year.
The issue has become a hot topic during the Demcoratic primaries, with Senator Kamala Harris losing significant momentum and eventually dropping out owing to criticism of her hardline stance on drugs as California Attorney General.