With the clock ticking down the minutes to the Democratic Primary, Bernie Sanders, not known for mincing words about issues he holds near and dear, is becoming even more outspoken. Being the only candidate to support complete legalization, he addressed the concerns of Californians at rallies in several cities.
On the road and fighting for life
Just over a month away, July is the deadline for securing the Democratic Party’s nomination for president. With Hillary Clinton leading by a significant margin in pledged delegates, Sanders desperately needs the 475 delegates that California has up for grabs on June 7th.
Sanders spoke in Santa Monica, saying that he would vote yes on the November ballot initiative that would legalize recreational use in the state. In Riverside, he reiterated to a crowd of over a thousand how the drug war unfairly persecutes minorities. Over 5,000 people turned out in San Bernadino to hear him speak on his continued fight to remove cannabis from the nation’s Schedule 1 substances list, and in Cathedral City, he spread his message again.
We have got to rethink the so-called War on Drugs. Here is the truth about what we know: that is that over the last 30 years millions of Americans have received criminal records for possession of marijuana. That becomes a racial issue, because while blacks and white do marijuana in equal rates, blacks are four times more likely than whites to be arrested.
The youth vote
Bernie Sanders is the oldest candidate still in the running for President of the United States, but his power lies in the youth of the nation. Notorious for being jaded about most politicians, as well as the War on Drugs, they have embraced Sanders with open arms and open minds.
Right now under the federal controlled substances act, marijuana is listed as a schedule one drug right next to heroin. People can argue, and scientists argue, the pluses and minuses of marijuana. But nobody I know believes marijuana is equivalent to a killer drug like heroin. – Sanders in San Bernadino
Sanders and cannabis face similar voting blocks, with the majority of support coming from the younger generation. In California, a February poll by the NORML found 60% of likely California voters wanted legalization. That survey found among voters 18 to 34, 8-out-of-10 would vote yes.
For the only candidate to fully embrace legalization, Sanders has come under surprising criticism from one of cannabis’s most lifelong enthusiasts. Tommy Chong, a long-standing Sanders supporter, was recently disinvited to be an opening speaker for Sanders at a rally in East Los Angeles. Chong was less than understanding and vented his frustrations publicly. He told the Hollywood Reporter:
It’s lip service to get the votes, but they don’t want to endorse what I stand for and what I’ve stood for all my professional career. It was an insult. – Chong
Chong is famous for “blazing” the image of the now stereotypical stoner into the minds of mainstream America, and the world. But though he has matured out of his stoner youth, his introduction might steer middle-ground voters away from the already controversial candidate.
Polls this and polls that
While Clinton and Trump have more negative opinion from voter polls than any other candidates in recent history, Sanders has often been pushed out of the limelight by mainstream media. According to polls of California, Sanders has his work cut out for him winning there. Clinton leads Sanders by 9.5 percentage points in the average of four polls conducted in the state that was compiled by Real Clear Politics.
Whatever way polls swing, and statistically, this time of year polls are further out of skew with end results than at any other time, as parties jockey for final position on candidates, the biggest measure of public support are votes. Americans are notorious for paltry election day turnouts. Sanders spoke on this in Santa Monica.
We win when voter turnout is higher. If we can bring out a higher turnout in California on June 7 we are going to win and we are going to win big. If we win in California we are going to march in to the convention with a lot of momentum. And if we march into the convention with momentum we’re going to get the nomination. And if we win the nomination, Donald trump is toast. – Sanders
Do you think Sanders can rally the delegates he needs to beat Clinton? Who would you vote for between the three? Share your thoughts on social media or in the comments below.