U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders this week formally introduced legislation that would remove marijuana from the federal list of outlaw drugs known as Schedule I.
The rule would apparently “deschedule” pot altogether, allowing individual states to regulate cannabis as they see fit. Sanders, who’s running for president on the Democratic ticket, said previously that he’d introduce this legislation soon.
The bill is called the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015.
Though it’s the first legislation of its kind to be introduced in the Senate, Bernie’s bill is similar to the failed Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011 that was authored by Barney Frank and Ron Paul.
The new proposal is a long shot.
Congress, particularly the lower house, is under the sway of an increasingly right-wing group of Republicans. Though there are a few pro-pot, pro-state’s rights libertarians among them, the GOP generally doesn’t like weed.
Nonetheless, pro-pot groups were enthused.
“Clearly Bernie Sanders has looked at the polls showing voter support for marijuana legalization,” said Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Action, the political arm of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Marijuana reform was already moving forward in Congress but we expect this bill to give reform efforts a big boost.”
The organization Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) seemed just as excited.
“Many legislators and citizens are still hesitant to move forward with marijuana legalization initiatives in their home states because of the federal ban, which may contradict state law, making both laws difficult to follow or enforce, and making banking transactions all but impossible.” Neill Franklin executive director of LEAP.