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Sanders: Pot Didn't Work For Him, But It Does For Some People

Bernie Sanders told supporters after winning the New Hampshire primary, "The American people bailed out Wall Street; now it's Wall Street's time to help the middle class."
J. David Ake/AP

Bernie Sanders told supporters after winning the New Hampshire primary, "The American people bailed out Wall Street; now it's Wall Street's time to help the middle class."

While Republican presidential candidates focus on South Carolina, which hosts a primary Saturday, Democrats are turning their attention to Nevada.

Nevada, which is more like the rest of the country demographically, could say much about how each candidate will do in the rest of the country.

According to the latest polls, Sanders is in a dead-heat with former senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But the polls are one thing. For a candidate to win delegate votes in Nevada, they have to get their supporters to Saturday’s caucus.

MORE: Caucuses How Do They Work?

From NPR: What You Need To Know About Nevada's Democratic Caucuses

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders talked with KNPR's State of Nevada about Cliven Bundy, internet gaming, legalizing pot and more.


Would you be in favor of turning more federal lands over to the states?

No, I would not. I would be in favor of closer cooperation between state and local officials and the federal government. But this is land that belongs to the people of the United States to be utilized in the best interest of the people of the United States.

What is your opinion of Internet gaming?

I do not think that it should be made legal by the federal government. I think the states have the right to do what they want and I understand Nevada is doing what it wants to do.  But to my mind, that is a state decision not a federal decision.

Are you going to take any money from gaming interests?

I don't take money from corporate PACs so no. I don't take money from Wall Street. I don't take money from corporate America. I will not be taking money from gaming interests.  

I think its important to understand that when we talk about a corrupt campaign finance system where billionaires have undue influence over the political process I don't think you have to look much further than Sheldon Adelson right there in Nevada. And nothing personal against Mr. Adelson, but billionaires should not be buying elections. Billionaires should not be sitting down with Republican candidates hearing what they can do for him. That's not what American democracy is about, which is why I will do everything I can to overturn this disastrous Citizen's United Supreme Court decision which now allows people like Mr. Adelson the Koch Brothers and other very wealthy people to have a much over inflated position on our electoral process.

On jobs and income inequality:

What my main concern is right now, is that we have a corrupt campaign finance system. We have an economy that is rigged. We have massive income and wealth inequality. We have people in Nevada. We have people in Vermont, all over this country working for $8, $9, $10 bucks an hour and they can't make it. Twenty-nine million people have no health insurance. The real issues facing us in this campaign is whether we continue a corrupt campaign finance system, whether we continue a rigged economy where almost all new income and wealth is going to the top 1 percent.

When you're talking about jobs, what I want to see is above and beyond the gaming industry, and that's fine. I want to see the rebuilding of manufacturing in this country, which is why I believe we have to transform our trade policies, which today have encouraged many corporations to shut down in America and move aboard.

Do you support the legalization of marijuana? 

What I do support and what I uniquely as a presidential candidate have said is number one: It is absurd that marijuana is on a Schedule One in the Federal Controlled Substance Act right along side heroin. Frankly, that is nuts.

Have you ever tried it? 

Yes I did. 30 or 40 years ago. Didn't do much for me, but I guess it does something different for other people. 

Here's what I think: Millions of people in this country have police records, arrest records because they smoked marijuana. That is crazy that is destroying a whole lot of lives. So number one: I would take marijuana out of the federal controlled substance act. number two: states in our system to have the right to go forward to legalize. Four states, as you know, have done that, DC has done it as well. That is a state decision. But people should not get arrest records because of the Federal Controlled Substance Act.

Sen. Bernie Sanders D-VT, presidential candidate

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.