At this moment in 2019, there might not be two figures more beloved yet controversial in the U.S. culture than Bernie Sanders and Joe Rogan. Naturally, a conversation between the two could only get more interesting should they talk about weed, which is exactly what they did on an episode of Rogan’s podcast last week.
Sanders, the 77-year-old independent who is running as Democratic presidential candidate and is considered a sweetheart among millennials, hasn’t been shy when it comes to voicing his views on legalizing recreational marijuana. While the down-to-earth Vermont senator has appeared on or in virtually every major news platform, there is arguably no better place to reach his target millennial demographic than one of the world’s most popular podcasts, “The Joe Rogan Experience.”
As a comedian, commentator, and podcast host, Rogan is relatable because of his level-headed views on society. After all, any human who can host Alex Jones, Mike Tyson, Elon Musk, and Bernie Sanders on the same show is clearly in possession of one of the world’s most open minds. But just how, exactly, does he mingle with all of these larger-than-life personalities? Well, for starters, he smokes a shit-ton of weed.
Here are five of the most interesting weed-related takeaways from Sanders’ and Rogan’s conversation.
One of the biggest hurdles to cannabis access and research is the fact that it’s classified as a Schedule I substance. In layman’s terms, this means it’s lumped in with life-threatening drugs like heroin, while also contending that it doesn’t contain any medicinal benefits; something that is being disproved time and again.
Sanders expressed outrage that marijuana is even spoken in the same breath as the heavily-addicted opiate.
“Right now you have a federal law — it’s called the Controlled Substances Act. Here’s heroin, here’s marijuana — they’re at the same level,” Sanders said. “That is insane.”
Sanders has been very vocal on the federal legalization of cannabius since his first campaign in 2016.. Sanders dished out his game plan on the Rogan podcast, explaining that he’d pass an executive order to expedite the process, rather than going the traditional route through Congress.
“You can argue the pluses and minuses of marijuana, but marijuana ain’t heroin. So we have to end that and that’s what I will do as president of the United States,” Sanders said. “I believe we can do that through executive order and I will do that.”
Sanders has always been a huge proponent of civil rights and criminal reform — look no further than his early years of activism. The Vermont senator believes the criminal justice system is flawed at its very core. Legalizing marijuana could eventually pay huge dividends, especially when it comes to minorities in the U.S.
“When I ran for president for the Democratic nomination in 2016, I talked about a broken criminal justice system, which ends up having in the United States more people in jail than any other country,” Sanders told Rogan. “When we talk about criminal justice in America, we have over two million people in jail. They are disproportionately African America, Latino, and Native American. In the wealthiest country in the history of the world, what we have to do instead of building more jails and locking up more people, we really have to invest in our young people. Especially young people in distressed communities.”
Ok, now for the “berning” question at hand: Has Sanders smoked weed himself? His answer was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a lukewarm yes. But perhaps he was just playing coy. “I’ve smoked marijuana a couple times … it didn’t do much for me.”
You have to respect individuals’ decision to not partake; weed isn’t for everyone. But despite cannabis not being an integral part of his life like it is for some, he still supports its legalization and amnesty of pot prisoners.
When asked by Rogan if he’d consider adopting a health-centered drug policy similar to Portugal, where all drugs were decriminalized, Sanders stopped short of saying that’s in the cards; at least for now.
“No, not at this point,” Sanders admitted.
Feature image by GaudiLab/Shutterstock
Tim Kohut is a writer, journalist, and comedian hailing from Rockland County, New York. He’s covered the burgeoning cannabis industry extensively over the past several years as both a Staff Writer and contributor for High Times Magazine, Green Rush Daily, and now Weedmaps News. He also currently serves as a Features Editor for The Knicks Wall. His work has also appeared on Bleacher Report, Fansided, and Clutchpoints.