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Bernie Sanders: I'd be open to legalizing marijuana

Democratic presidential Bernie Sanders said he would legalize marijuana and called for an end to the destructive war on drugs.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses his supporters during a fundraising event at the historic Avalon Theater in Hollywood, Calif., on Oct. 14, 2015. (Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders addresses his supporters during a fundraising event at the historic Avalon Theater in Hollywood, Calif., on Oct. 14, 2015. 

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said he would be open to the legalization of marijuana and called for an end to the destruction war on drugs.

The Vermont senator, who is running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party's nomination for the White House, said he would examine Colorado and other states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, during an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Wednesday night. 

“I am not unfavorably disposed to moving toward the legalization of marijuana,” Sanders told Kimmel. “We have more people in jail today than any other country on Earth. We have large numbers of lives that have been destroyed because of this war on drugs, and because people were caught smoking marijuana and so forth. I think we have got to end the war on drugs.”

Related: Clinton and Sanders are wrong when it comes to pot and prison

Sanders signaled his openness to support pot legalization in the first Democratic debate in Nevada last week, when candidates were asked their position on an upcoming ballot in the state that would legalize recreational marijuana. Both Sanders and Clinton said the possession of marijuana had unfairly incarcerated to many people. However, only the junior senator, who has admitted to smoking pot in the past, supports the Nevada measure.

“I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses,” he said.

However, a 2012 study does not support the White House hopefuls' claim that illegal possession has incarcerated many people. According to prison records compiled by the authors of “Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know,” published by Oxford University Press. The book noted that about 700,000 people are arrested on possession charges every year. However, virtually none of them were imprisoned. The authors said less than 400 people are serving state or federal sentences for marijuana possession alone.

Sanders, a Brooklyn native, was in his hometown for late night show that was taped in the borough this week. He also spoke about his college tuition free plan, income inequality and why he is electable. Sanders renewed his call for campaign finance reform and slammed super PACs that he said have outsized influence of political decisions in Washington.

“We have a campaign finance system and super PACs which are really undermining American democracy and create in a sense a corrupt system,” he said.

On the late night show, the presidential candidate was also asked what he thought about Larry David’s impression of him on "Saturday Night Live" last week.

“I thought it was pretty, pretty, pretty good!” Sanders replied, while doing his own impersonation of David's most famous catchphrases from his show "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

The "SNL" skit last week was regular talking point for Sanders on the campaign trail in Iowa on Sunday. Sanders sarcastically told reporters that he bought a second pair of underwear, in reference to one of David’s jokes.