by George Skelton
1. Bernie Sanders must be smoking something.
Pandering to potheads by endorsing a marijuana legalization initiative on the November ballot is his right. But, as the saying goes, he doesn’t have a right to his own facts.
“It makes sense to legalize marijuana,” Sanders told a campaign rally last week in East Los Angeles where, wrote Times reporter Kurtis Lee, “a slightly pungent pot aroma wafted through the air.”
“If I were here in your state,” the Vermont senator continued, “I would vote yes on that issue.”
So far OK. But the candidate showed ignorance or intellectual dishonesty in explaining his position to a Santa Monica crowd:
“If you are a 19-year-old kid applying for a job and your employer asks you if you’ve ever been arrested and you say, ‘Well, yeah, I was smoking marijuana,’ you may not get that job.”
Fact: No one in California gets arrested for toking weed. It’s not even a misdemeanor. It’s the same as a traffic ticket. And that isn’t even enforced on anyone using marijuana just to get a buzz.
Smoking a joint as so-called medicine, of course, has been legal for two decades.
Bernie Sanders fires up the crowd at Davis rallyIf you’re trafficking by the bushel load or a big-time grower for social use, you can be arrested. But hardly anyone is ever locked up in California on a marijuana charge. Only three-tenths of 1% of state prison inmates are incarcerated for any pot conviction.
Yes, the federal government still considers marijuana a dangerous drug and deems its use a crime. Only Congress can change that. So get at it, senator.
Incidentally, that 19-year-old kid? He couldn’t legally smoke a joint even under the initiative. He’d have to be 21.
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Susan Soares has written for Cannabis Now Magazine, Alternet, and Sensi Magazine.