Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders was campaigning in Michigan on Monday when he suddenly opened up about his own history with marijuana.
One day before Sanders’ surprise win in Michigan’s primary, the candidate dismissed other lawmakers’ comparisons of heroin to cannabis — and he also talked on his limited experience with marijuana.
“I’ve done marijuana twice in my life, when I was very young,” Bernie Sanders said to the crowd’s applause. “And what it did for me, is it made me cough a lot — that was my response, but I gather other people have had different experiences.”
Sanders called heroin “a killer drug” and pointedly took aim at the Controlled Substances Act, which ranks cannabis alongside heroin in terms of the drugs having high potential for abuse, no accepted medical use in the U.S. and a lack of safe use.
“We also know, and people can argue this ’til the cows come home and scientists dispute it, marijuana is not heroin,” Sanders said Monday. “I’m not here advocating for marijuana. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug alongside of heroin. (The audience booed.) I agree, and that is why I believe we should take marijuana out of the federal Controlled Substances Act.”
Many legalization activists have attached themselves to Sanders in part because of his cannabis platform, which would involve the drug being completely removed from the federal government’s list of the most dangerous drugs.
“Too many Americans have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use,” Sanders said in October 2015. “That’s wrong. That has got to change.”
While Sanders wants marijuana completely descheduled, his Democratic opponent Clinton supports its rescheduling.
“We haven’t done research, why? Because it’s considered a Schedule I drug,” Clinton said in November 2015. “I’d like to move it from Schedule I to Schedule II.”