As we previously noted, it seems surprising that the 2016 Presidential candidates had not included much marijuana rhetoric in their speeches, considering the unanimous support of legalization across the country. But marijuana legalization is something that is starting to get discussed more and more at the federal level.
Public opinion has quickly changed on the subject – in just 30 years, the percentage of Americans that believe marijuana should be legal has increased from 12% to over half of the population. Furthermore, over half of the states allow the use of medical marijuana, and more and more states are adding marijuana initiatives to their ballots.
It could be this growing acceptance of cannabis that sparked some new language about marijuana. Going into the platform committee, Sanders’ campaign maintained the traditional “language” about marijuana – favoring state-to-state legalization, policies to allow more marijuana research and reforming laws to “allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty.”
But on Saturday, a new amendment was brought up that would go down in U.S. history. This amendment would have entirely removed marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. But many committee members were worried that this approach was going too far and undermined the state-by-state decriminalization studies.
So instead, a compromise was propositioned. Committee members swapped in the language of a rival amendment that downgraded marijuana from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act and included a “pathway” to legalization.
The result? 81 of the 187 committee members backed this amendment (80 opposed), resulting in a roar of applause from the onlookers’ seats.
The text of the amendment:
Because of conflicting laws concerning marijuana, both on the federal and state levels, we encourage the federal government to remove marijuana from its list as a Class 1 Federal Controlled Substance, providing a reasoned pathway for future legalization
The text of the criminal justice amendment:
We will work with police chiefs to invest in training for officers on issues such as de-escalation and the creation of national guidelines for the appropriate use of force, including how to de-escalate situations. We will encourage better police-community relations, require the use of body cameras, and stop the use of weapons of war that have no place in our communities. We will end racial profiling that targets individuals solely on race, religion, ethnicity, and national origin, which is un-American and counterproductive. We should report national data on policing strategies and provide greater transparency and accountability. We will require the Department of Justice to investigate all questionable or suspicious police-involved shootings, and we will support states and localities who help make those investigations and prosecutions more transparent, including through reforming the grand jury process.