Bernie Sanders Promises to Legalize Marijuana Federally by Executive Order, Expunge Records of Those Convicted of Pot Crimes

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont vowed to legalize marijuana nationally and expunge the criminal records of those convicted for possession of the drug at a rally near Dallas, Texas on Friday night.

Sanders made the remarks while speaking about criminal justice reform during the event held at the 5,500-capacity Mesquite Arena. The campaign stop was the third of the day for the busy Sanders, the first two having been held in North Carolina.

"By executive order, I can and will legalize marijuana in every state in this country," Sanders told the crowd. "We will expunge the records of those arrested for possession of marijuana."

Sanders promised to "end the so-called war on drugs" to a cheering crowd, while also tackling other issues related to prisons and incarceration.

"It is not acceptable to me that we have more people in jail in America than any other country on earth including China, [with a population] four times our size," said Sanders.

"We are going to end private prisons and detention centers," he added. "Corporations should not be making millions of dollars in profit for locking up fellow Americans."

Bernie Sanders
Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign event in Durham, North Carolina on February 14, 2020. Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty

Sanders began the rally by making the "dramatic announcement" that he expects to win the Texas primary. Polls in the state have recently shown the senator overtaking former Vice President Joe Biden. Multiple national polls also show Sanders in the lead and most observers now consider him the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

Other key moments in the speech saw Sanders promising to end the "cruel and dysfunctional" U.S. health care system in favor of his "Medicare for all" plan.

"We are the only major country on earth not to guarantee health care to all as a human right," said Sanders.

The senator also attempted to draw a stark contrast between himself and the "pathological liar" President Donald Trump, reciting a list of what he jokingly called the "best qualities" of the president.

"We cannot have a president who is a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe and a religious bigot," Sanders said. "And those are his best qualities."

The Sanders campaign has begun to turn its attention to delegate-rich Texas, which offers 228 pledged delegates. At least 1,991 delegates are required to automatically secure the Democratic nomination. The campaign announced they were opening five new campaign offices in the state Wednesday.

Texas voters will choose their pick for the Democratic nominee on March 3, joining 13 other states that will be holding primaries or caucuses on Super Tuesday.

The Nevada caucus is the next nominating contest, set for February 22.