Bernie Sanders Pleads to End The Failed War on Marijuana

Bernie Sanders has actually sent a letter to the country to end the federal prohibition on marijuana. The passionate Vermont senator has long advocated for discriminated people around the nation and consists of those that have actually come down with unjust drug policies. While arrests for low-level marijuana belongings have decreased, racial and low-income disparities are still extremely manipulated. The United States Chief Law Officer Jeff Sessions is intent on utilizing the justice system to fight dependency.

Some states and cities have actually currently started the procedure of expunging records for non-violent marijuana criminal activities and granting clemency to those serving time for cannabis possession. San Francisco’s district attorney is dealing with tossing out the records of countless individuals dating back to the 1970′s. Colorado’s guv is granting clemency to over 40 inmates also.

I am composing you about an issue of grave effect that affects the lives of countless Americans and considerably affects our democracy– namely the continued federal prohibition on marijuana and the need for reform of our criminal justice system.

As you know, a variety of states (including my state of Vermont) have actually legalized or legislated the belongings, usage and sale of marijuana in the last few years. Under the Obama Administration, the Justice Department took no action against these states or the people in those states. Nevertheless, the Trump Administration has actually taken a really different position with Chief law officer Jeff Sessions threatening to prosecute. That would be a big mistake and move us in precisely the incorrect direction.

Here’s why:

Countless Americans have actually had their lives affected by the federal prohibition on marijuana– arrests, convictions and even jail time. Even when individuals don’t go to jail, the criminal record they get makes it harder for them to find a job, get real estate or go to college. Is this a prevalent issue? It sure is. In 2016 alone, over half a million people were jailed for cannabis possession.

These damaging effects are felt much more acutely in neighborhoods of color and bad neighborhoods due to the fact that enforcement of marijuana laws is much stricter there than in more affluent, white neighborhoods. Incredibly, African Americans are four times more likely to be apprehended for marijuana although cannabis use rates are generally the exact same across racial lines.

Naturally, cannabis prohibition becomes part of a bigger failed war on drugs that has actually resulted in the fantastic nationwide crisis of mass incarceration. Some 1.5 million individuals were apprehended for a drug associated offense in 2016– over 80 percent which were for possession alone. We need to stop criminalizing addiction. We need to stop criminalizing recreational marijuana use.

The criminal justice system is not the answer to substance abuse. Addiction is an illness and we need to begin treating it that method. While communities all across the nation lack sufficient resources for treatment or prevention, we are investing around $50 billion a year on the war on drugs. That’s absurd. We need to get our priorities right.

Which starts with making our voices heard:

Sign my petition if you concur it is long past time for the government to end its unsuccessful war on drugs and instead invest in programs that concentrate on treatment and avoidance of drug abuse. This is an important issue that affects almost everybody and we should all make our voices heard.

This so-called war on drugs has actually led us to have over 2 million individuals in prison– disproportionately bad and from communities of color. Our incarceration rate is the greatest worldwide– greater even than authoritarian countries like China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

Even more, exactly what is seldom gone over is how the war on drugs and mass incarceration is impacting the essence of our democracy. People with felony convictions can not vote in many states. Today, because of that alone, over 6 million Americans are rejected access to the tally.

Uneven enforcement and that people of color receive longer sentences for the exact same offenses than white defendants suggests more felony convictions in those neighborhoods. And that implies– surprise, surprise– less voters.

In other words, the war on drugs is robbing those minority and lower earnings communities of their political power. In Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee over 20 percent of voting age African Americans are disenfranchised due to the fact that of felony convictions. It’s not too tough to find out what’s going on here. The neighborhoods most affected by these policies are systematically removed of their capability in our democratic system to politically resist.

Why hasn’t something been done to repair this problem? You understand the reason. The unfortunate fact is that some political leaders gain from individuals not having the ability to vote. All too often these are the same political leaders who are trying to disenfranchise voters in other ways, such as limiting voter ID laws or extreme gerrymandering.

This has actually got to alter.

We need the highest voter turnout on the planet, not the highest incarceration rate. We have to offer treatment for individuals with drug abuse problems, not lock them up.

As a first step, we need to eliminate cannabis from Classification 1 of the federal Controlled Substances Act where it is currently ranked together with drugs like heroin. In reality, marijuana is categorized more harshly than drug. That does not make any sense.

Let’s have states choose the issue of cannabis for themselves like they finish with alcohol. More and more states are relocating the instructions of decriminalization. Let them make those choices without federal interference.

Let’s invest in the avoidance and treatment of substance abuse.

Let’s reform our criminal laws and take other steps to dismantle mass incarceration. To name a few steps forward we need to prohibit private prisons and develop new federal policing requirements.

Let’s bring back the voting rights of all Americans.

If you share my objective of making these crucial reforms please sign this petition:

Sign my petition if you concur it is long past time for the federal government to end its failed war on drugs and instead invest in programs that focus on treatment and prevention of drug abuse. This is a crucial issue that impacts practically everyone and we ought to all make our voices heard.

In Uniformity,

Bernie Sanders

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