New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has drafted a bill that will remove marijuana from the federal government’s list of controlled substances-thus legalizing the plant nationwide.
Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act is expected to be announced formally over Facebook Live, and will outline a new approach to cannabis in the United States, including:
- Awarding federal funds to states that change their current laws if their existing laws are shown to have an outsized impact on people of color-such as higher arrest rates.
- Expunging existing federal cannabis possession or use crimes.
- Allowing individuals serving time in federal prison to petition for resentencing.
- Descheduling cannabis, which is currently listed as a Schedule One illicit substance. A Schedule One substance is characterized as having no medical value, and a high risk of abuse.
- The creation of a “community investment fund” that will allocate resources to areas hit the hardest by the war on drugs. The MJA will allocate resources dedicated to job training, post-prison re-entry services, public libraries and youth programs.
In a statement, Booker said that “Our country’s drug laws are badly broken and need to be fixed,” and proceeded to highlight the ways in which cannabis prohibition on the federal level is actually harmful to the American people:
“They don’t make our communities any safer – instead they divert critical resources from fighting violent crimes, tear families apart, unfairly impact low-income communities and communities of color, and waste billions in taxpayer dollars each year.”
If we look to other states that have legalized marijuana in some capacity-either medicinally or recreationally-we can see quite easily how the states are benefitting from it. Not only do they see massive tax revenue as a result, but law enforcement agencies are making better use of their time now that they are not under obligation to make so many possession-related arrests. Additionally, states that have legalized marijuana see a decline in overdoses and deaths caused by the abuse of opioid drugs. Over half of the country offers legal marijuana in some capacity, without the catastrophic events that opponents wrung their hands over so fiercely.
It is time that the federal government accepts that the people of America have spoken: They want legal, regulated, adult-use marijuana.
Photo by tanjila