Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speaks during a "National Student Town Hall" at George Mason University on Oct. 28, 2015 in Fairfax, Virginia.
Alex Wong—Getty Images
By Sam Frizell
October 29, 2015

Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday he is in favor of removing marijuana from a list of dangerous drugs controlled by the federal government, a move that would effectively allow states to legalize the drug without interference from Washington, DC.

Speaking to a group of students at a town hall meeting at George Mason University in Virginia, the Vermont senator and presidential candidate did not go as far as to to call for making marijuana legal nationwide. The proposal would still allow federal law enforcement to prosecute drug dealers for traffic in marijuana sales.

But Sanders is the first candidate to call for removing the drug completely form the list of controlled substances, and people who use marijuana in states that legalize it would no longer be targeted for federal prosecution.

“Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That’s wrong. That has got to change,” Sanders said.

Sanders is hoping to attract African Americans to his campaign, and has been speaking frequently on the campaign trail about criminal justice reform and the disproportionate effect of marijuana arrests on minorities.

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