Sen. Bernie Sanders brought marijuana into the national conversation last week, calling for legalizing and regulating the drug. Under his plan, people in possession of the substance would be treated no differently than people smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol.
By removing marijuana from the list of dangerous drugs, Sanders’ move would allow states to legalize the marijuana without Washington having a say.
Beyond campaign speeches meant to appeal to young voters, a host of state ballot initiatives on marijuana will be greeting voters next November. In California, which became the first state to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, residents may vote to legalize recreational use of the drug.
With so many members in Congress, California could become the catalyst for changing federal law. Massachusetts opened its first medical dispensary early this year. A referendum to end cannabis prohibition has been filed, and voters are expected to approve full legalization.