Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer backs Cannabis legalization in America
Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, offered draft legislation to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances and begin regulating and taxing it.
The measure introduced by the New York Democrat - along with Senators Cory Booker (DN.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore) - proposes lifting federal sentences for cannabis, deleting nonviolent federal criminal records for cannabis, and allowing states to do so to decide whether or how to legalize the drug.
Chuck Schumer would also have to corner President Joe Biden - who supported the decriminalization but not legalization of marijuana - to sign the law. However, he had shown confidence in his prospects in the past.
The proposal would also try to make recompense to communities of color and the poor for damage from years of restrictive federal drug policy. It calls for immediately expunging nonviolent marijuana-related arrests and convictions from federal records and would earmark new tax revenue for restorative justice programs intended to lift up communities affected by “the failed federal prohibition of cannabis.”
Schumer said in April that any bill he introduced was certain to evolve — a draft serving as a jumping-off point to spark discussion with unconvinced lawmakers in both parties.
"We'd certainly listen to some suggestions if that'll bring more people on board," Schumer said. "That is not to say we're going to throw overboard things like expungement of records — very important to us — and other things like that, just 'cause some people don't like it."
The legislation faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where Republicans are opposed, and it is unlikely to become law soon. President Biden has not endorsed it, and some moderate Democrats are likely to balk at the implications of decriminalizing a drug that has been policed and stigmatized for so long.
But in the arc of the public’s rapid reconsideration of marijuana laws, the presentation on Wednesday was a remarkable milestone for legalization proponents. The suggestion that the Senate’s top leader would sponsor major decriminalization legislation would have been fantastical in the not-too-distant past.
Mr. Schumer wrote the bill with Senator Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, and Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and the chairman of the Finance Committee.
The thing about Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Wyden, and Booker’s bill is that it does not propose legalizing cannabis across the U.S. At its heart, it’s a states rights bill. If it were to pass, the bill would end the federal prohibition by removing it from the list of federally banned substances, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in charge of regulating the industry and leave it up to the states to legalize or ban the drug.
Despite the challenges ahead for the proposed legislation, Booker perhaps summed up the day the best: “This is a this is a historic day,” said Booker. “The United States of America has never seen a day like this before. This is the first time in American history that the majority leader of the United States Senate is leading the call to end the prohibition of marijuana.”
16 July 2021