A whole lot of our leaders are trying to figure out how to reform police amid a month of protest and unrest following the death George Floyd at the hands of officers in Minneapolis. Sen. Bernie Sanders has a few salient suggestions, not least of all is the legalization of cannabis.
“[W]e need to legalize marijuana,” Sanders saidon the Senate floor last week. “In the midst of the many crises we face as a country, it is absurd that, under the federal Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is at Schedule I, along with killer drugs like heroin.”
Earlier this month Sanders held a virtual town hall meeting on the effects of the War on Drugs, where he and Sen. Cory Booker expounded on the obviously messed up fact that black Americans are almost four times as likely to be arrestedfor cannabis-related offenses than their white counterparts, though whites actually use cannabis slightly more often.
Over the last several years, states have been trying to address the drug war on their own, with many legalizing cannabis and expunging records for previous cannabis offenses. Sanders says it is time to do the same at the federal level.
“State after state have moved to legalize marijuana, and it is time for the federal government to do the same,” he said, as reported by The Chicago Tribune.
“When we talk about police department reform, we must end police officers continuing to arrest, search or jail the people of our country, predominantly people of color, for using marijuana.”
In addition to legalizing cannabis, Sanders’s other suggestions for police reform include the creation of a civilian unit of unarmed first responders and the abolishment of qualified immunity, which protects police from civil lawsuits.
Photo via Flickr/Shelly Prevost