Sen. Bernie Sanders said Monday that “too many lives are being destroyed” by federal laws banning marijuana use, telling a morning radio show that he supports decriminalizing the drug even though his personal experience with it is limited.
In an interview on “The Breakfast Club,” a nationally syndicated morning radio show, the 2020 presidential candidate reiterated his stance on cannabis, calling for legalization of the drug due to the disparities he says it has created in the criminal justice system. His comments marked the most recent example of a 2020 candidate speaking in support of decriminalizing marijuana, an issue that’s moved from the fringes of the last presidential campaign cycle to center stage.
“Too many lives are being destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people get criminal records. You know why? Because they have smoked marijuana,” Sanders (I-Vt.) said. “That’s insane.”
When asked if he’d smoked marijuana, Sanders told the talk show’s hosts he had a few times, echoing what he told reporters in 2015.
“Didn’t do a whole lot for me,” he said Monday. “My recollection is I nearly coughed my brains out, so it’s not my cup of tea.”
On other topics, Sanders diverged from some of his declared 2020 opponents. Unlike Harris — who said she was in favor of reparations for African-Americans during her interview with the radio show last month without offering much in the way of specifics — Sanders said Monday that he was opposed to straight cash payments as a means of making amends for past racial injustices.
“Just a check to every African-American? Well, then there’s a check to every Native American who were nearly wiped out when the settlers first came here,” Sanders said. “I think the way to move forward is to build America together.”
The senator said his agenda would focus on paying attention to communities in distress of all demographics. He criticized President Donald Trump for failing to do just that.
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