Marijuana Separated Sanders and Clinton in a Big Way

October 13th 2015

Two hours into the first Democratic debate of the 2016 presidential election, CNN Español host Juan Carlos Lopez finally brought up marijuana.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was reminded of his former admission of having smoked pot twice and was asked whether he would vote to legalize recreational marijuana if he lived in Nevada, a state that will be voting on legal pot next year.

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He said he would, arguing that America's marijuana laws have contributed to the country's mass incarceration problem and have been enforced in a way that disproportionately affects Black communities.

"I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses," Sanders said. "I think we have to think through this War on Drugs, which has done an enormous amount of damage. We need to rethink our criminal justice system."

Although she supports legalized medical marijuana, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, who has previously said that she supports states experimenting with recreational legalization, stated that she is still not yet prepared to support outright legalization.

She agreed with Sanders' point, however, that the Drug War has acutely affected Black communities.

Marijuana reform has been a central issue for young voters who believe that the federal government should, at the very least, reclassify pot under the Controlled Substances Act, which currently puts it at the same level of danger as heroin. Others go further, arguing that marijuana should be legalized by the federal government. Right now, 23 states and the District of Columbia have already established state-run medical or recreational marijuana systems.

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The first recreational marijuana dispensaries just opened in Oregon, and news of the state's record sales—which exceeded $10 million on the first day—have once again demonstrated that the pot business is both popular and profitable. A growing movement of pro-pot advocates have pushed marijuana legalization to the forefront of the national debate, and it is increasingly represented in mainstream politics.

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