Senate Leader Schumer and Rep. Jeffries Call for ‘Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity’
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) thinks it’s time to federally decriminalize marijuana because “it’s the right thing to do.” He made that statement on April 20, 2018. Three months later, on June 28, 2018, he introduced the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act.
“The time to decriminalize marijuana is now,” Schumer stated. “The new Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is about giving states the freedom to be the laboratories that they should be and giving Americans – especially women and minority business owners as well as those convicted of simple possession of marijuana intended for personal use – the opportunity to succeed in today’s economy.”
Update: On May 9, 2019 Schumer along with New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries said they would be reintroducing the Act in both chambers. Jeffries called it “a phenomenal step forward for racial and economic justice.”
Schumer added, “We’ve seen with medical marijuana, the states are working. Let each state do what it wants. There’s not going to be the heavy hand of the government telling you you can’t. It’s working. Why not do it for recreational as well?”
The bill would:
• “Decriminalize marijuana at the federal level by descheduling it, which means removing marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970”;
• “Establish dedicated funding streams to be administered by the Small Business Administration for women and minority-owned marijuana businesses”;
• “Authorizes grant programs to encourage state and local governments to administer, adopt or enhance expungement or sealing programs for marijuana possession convictions.”
Schumer’s Evolution on Cannabis
“I’m a little cautious on this,” Schumer had previously commented, noting that he wanted to “see the outcomes [in legal states like Colorado] before we make a decision.” NORML has given Schumer a B grade regarding his support for marijuana legislation (he co-sponsored the CARERS Act).
But Schumer says he came around by studying the issue: “We’ve now had some evidence. In Washington and other states, it’s done lots of good and no harm. Justice Brandeis said let the states be laboratories. Now’ve have had a few states, we’ve had a few laboratories. The experiment has been a success. Let’s nationalize it… Legalization is just fine… All the parade of horribles that people talked about didn’t occur. Crime did not spike in any place. There’s no evidence that young people are using drugs of any type more. The pathway issue hasn’t proven to be true. So it all makes sense. When you get evidence, you act on it.”
SENATOR SCHUMER: “We’ve seen with medical marijuana, the states are working. Why not do it for recreational as well?”
The Senator calls his thinking “practical – when so many people are incarcerated and not out there being productive citizens of society, that matters to the whole country… There are two paths here: One is decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level and there’s another path already being pursued in a bipartisan way by people like Sen. Booker and Sen. Durbin, which is criminal justice reform, which I also support. That’s a separate track dealing with people who’ve been unfairly punished… I’ve seen too many peoples’ lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long. It effects communities of color disproportionately and unfairly.”
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