Sanders official won't rule out covering medical marijuana in 'Medicare for All'

A national policy director for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE’s (I-Vt.) 2020 campaign said the Vermont senator is open to covering medical marijuana in his signature “Medicare for All” plan.

“We have to do research on that but of course Medicare for All covers all medically necessary needs,” Josh Orton told Hill.TV during an interview that aired on Friday. “But it’s not something that we would rule out.”

Sanders last week unveiled his plan to legalize marijuana across the country. 

If Sanders becomes president, his administration would immediately take executive action to declassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, and expunge past criminal convictions related to the drug.

The proposal would also provide a number of grants, including a $20 billion program that would provide grants to entrepreneurs of color who face discrimination in getting access to business capital. Another $10 billion would be allocated for those with past criminal convictions or who live in areas disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

Orton said the most important aspect of the plan is to “undo the vicious consequences of the war on drugs.” The policy director lamented that the drug has long been used to target people of color and disqualify the poor from getting access to public benefits. 

“Cops have been using marijuana — the smell of marijuana — as a legal pretext for stops and to bring people into the criminal al justice system that should never be there in the first place,” he told Hill.TV. “Bernie’s focus has been to make sure we address the racial justice issue and undo the harm that the war on drugs as related to marijuana, especially, has wrought.”

— Tess Bonn