Sen. Booker Introduces ‘most far-reaching’ Bill to Legalize Marijuana Ever

by Walter Einenkel –

On Tuesday morning, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) tweeted this out.

Today at 12:30pm ET I’m introducing the Marijuana Justice Act to legalize marijuana at federal level. Watch live: http://cor.bo/2tX20Rx 

According to numerous outlets, the bill that Sen. Booker plans to introduce would be similar to the one Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced in 2015, but with an extra push on the part of the federal government to incentivize states to legalize.

Where Booker’s bill goes further is it actively encourages states to legalize cannabis. Specifically, the bill leverages federal funds to incentivize legalization in states that have enforced laws against marijuana in a way that disproportionately impacts low-income people and people of color — a category that includes virtually every state. (A 2015 report from the Sentencing Project, for one, estimated that black Americans are 3.7 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession as their white counterparts, but only 1.3 times as likely to use pot.)

The measure addresses the two layers of prohibition. Under current federal law, pot remains illegal even in states that have legalized — creating big barriers to states that have legalized, including restrictions on business tax deductions and access to banking. But whether marijuana is legal, decriminalized, or illegal at the state or local level is decided through state or local law — meaning that a city or state could conceivably keep marijuana illegal even if the federal government removes all its own restrictions.

The movement to legalize marijuana—beyond simply for medicinal use—has a foothold in states around the country. Most United States citizens have no problem with the concept of legalizing weed and ending the criminalization of millions of Americans. Sen. Booker’s bill, the Marijuana Justice Act, would be an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act. It’d remove marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol from the schedule of controlled substances and create a $500 million “Community Reinvestment Fund,” according to drug policy.org.

Whether you are a fan of Senator Booker or not—and I am not a big fan—this is something we can all get behind.

“Ending federal marijuana prohibition would bring the law in line with the opinion of the growing majority of Americans who want states to be able to enact their own marijuana laws without harassment by the DEA. By divesting in prisons and reinvesting in job training and re-entry programs, this bill would move our country forward and prioritize building up our communities,” said attorney Shaleen Title, a founding board member of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and founder of THC Staffing Group.

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos