Asked by CNN’s Juan Carlos Lopez whether he’d support Nevada’s 2016 ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana in that state, Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders answered “I suspect I would vote yes” to applause from the crowd.
Sanders’ answer is significant because it marks the first time a 2016 candidate has openly declared support for legalizing recreational — and not just medical — marijuana. Asked earlier this year on Reddit about his views on marijuana,Sanders replied that he supported marijuana decriminalization as well as medical marijuana. He also hinted that he’d have more to say in coming months on the subject.
His response at tonight’s debate may hint at what his future policy proposals may entail. The full question and response is below:
LOPEZ: Senator Sanders, right here in Nevada, there will be a measure to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2016 ballot. You’ve said you smoked marijuana twice; it didn’t quite work for you. If you were a Nevada resident, how would you vote?
SANDERS: I suspect I would vote yes.
And I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana.
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, we we’ve got a lot of work to do in that area.