Marijuana Policy Project

Marijuana Question Answered by Sanders, Bloomberg and Klobuchar at Debate

From left to right on the South Carolina debate stage: Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer

Fret no more marijuana advcoates, a pot question was finally asked at one of the Democratic presidential candidates' debates. This happened at the debate in South Carolina (see video below) leading up to the primary there on February 29.

The seven candidates on the stage were, in alphabetical order: Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer and Elizabeth Warren.

The marijuana legalization question, asked about a halfway into the debate by CBS Norah O'Donnell, was directed at Klobuchar.


The Question

Senator Sanders want to legalize marijuana on Day One of his presidency, and is promising to expunge the record of anyone who has been arrested for possession. As a former prosecutor, is that a realistic promise?


Amy Klobuchar

"It is realistic to want to leglaize marijuana, I want to do that too."

"It is realistic to want to legalize marijuana, I want to do that too. I also think you need to look back at peoples' records, maybe you can't do it on Day One. You want to have a process to go through becasue there are too many people with things on their records that have stopped them from getting jobs. I think what we need to do when we do this is that we have money for treatment, and that's not necessarily because of marijuana, it's becasue of things like opioids and the like. One of the first plans I put out was for treatment. If you want to make the criminal justice system work, you don't want to have repeat customers."


Michael Bloomberg

"They haven't done enough research and the evidence so far is worrisome."

"We should not make this a criminal thing if you have small amounts. For dealers, yes. But for the average person, no. And you should expunge the records of those that got caught up in it before. Number two: We're not going to take it away from the states that have already done it. But, number three, you should listen to the scientists and the doctors. They say go very slow. They haven't done enough research and the evidence so far is worrisome. Before we get our kids, particularly kids in their late teens, and boys even more than girls, where they may be damaging their brains. Until we know the science it's just nonsensical to push ahead, but the cat's out of the bag. So since states have it, you're not going to take it away. Decriminalize the possession."


Bernie Sanders

"On Day One, we will change the federal Controlled Substances Act."

"We have criminal justice system today that is not only broken, it is racist. We've got more people in jail than any other country on Earth, including China. One of the reasons for that is the horrible War on Drugs. So I do believe on Day One we will change the federal Controlled Substances Act, which if you can believe it equates marijuana with heroin. That's insane. We're got to take marijuana out of that and effectively legalize marijuana in every state in the country. What we're also going to do is to move to expunge the records of those people who were arrested for possession of marijuana. And I'll tell you what else we're going to do: We're going to provide help to African American, Latino and Native American communities to start businesses to sell legal marijuana rather than let a few corporations control the legalized marijuana market."

Cue to the 2:09 mark.

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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.