Bernie Sanders first moved to Vermont from his native Brooklyn as part of a “hippie migration” – a movement of young people leaving behind urban living for the freedom to run around naked whilst listening to Joan Baez records, high on LSD, and having sex with just about whoever or whatever they fancied. But is Bernie Sanders pro-pot?
You’d probably reckon that when it came to legalizing marijuana the 78 year old Senator from Vermont and erstwhile candidate for the Democratic nomination for President himself would be a veritable Bob Marley compared to the rest of the field. But then you realize that this psychedelic-soaked generation would, just a few decades later, become the people who gave the world Ben & Jerry’s manufactured-hippie-nostalgia. Oh yeah, and go onto inspire Vermont’s other “gift” to the world, fucking Phish.
Now this is not to belittle the accomplishments or proven track record Senator Sanders has had over the years. He’s been an outspoken advocate for many progressive causes, often decades before his colleagues have come around—issues such as economic inequality, climate change, and same sex marriage. But you’ve got to wonder why a guy who labels himself a socialist, which, in the US politics, is pretty much the equivalent of saying you hate bald eagles, baseball, babies, has only taken the opportunity to dog whistle to Katie Couric (on Yahoo News of all places) about weed not being “his thing, but that he knows it’s a lot of people’s thing.” Or trailing off the conversation into his support of the State of Vermont’s recent vote to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use, or deploying his experiences as the Mayor of Burlington, VT: “when I was mayor of Burlington, in a city with a large population, I can tell you very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana.”
All this blowing smoke has lead other media outlets such as the Washington Post to speculate on how progressive a Sanders campaign policy would actually be on marijuana legalization, with Hunter Schwarz noting that “in the history of Democratic Presidential politics and weed” to go from Bill Clinton’s “didn’t inhale to Obama’s ‘Did inhale … that was the point’ back to Sanders’ “I tried it but didn’t like it”/”Let’s see how it plays out in Colorado” feels less forward moving than we’d like to hear from the candidate.
Meanwhile, publications such as the Cannabist and other pro-legalization media continue to hold on with the tiniest of roach clips to the hope that a promised “forthcoming announcement” from the Sanders campaign regarding marijuana policy could be the announcement they’ve been waiting for.
Of course, if you are working in Bernie Sanders’ campaign team, this is exactly what you want and the point of using these types of campaign tactics, getting people to hear what they want to hear, grafting their hopes and dreams on to a candidate while said candidate remains non-committal and really isn’t saying much of anything concrete. Like everyone, we’re left wondering and anticipating the next words from Senator Sanders’ campaign regarding legal, recreational marijuana.
Let’s hope that this isn’t just another pipe dream.