Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters after the Senate Democrats’ weekly political lunch in the U.S. Capitol in Washington on July 13, 2021.
Elizabeth Frantz | Reuters
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday proposed law to legalize marijuana at the federal level, a move aimed at easing restrictive drug policies that have disproportionately affected colored communities and the poor.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and introduce regulations on the taxation of cannabis products.
The proposal would erase federal records of non-violent cannabis offenders and allow individuals serving sentences in federal prison for non-violent marijuana crimes to seek reassessments in court.
“That is monumental. We are finally taking steps in the Senate to correct the injustice of the failed drug war, ”Schumer, DN.Y., said during a press conference at the Capitol. Schumer presented the draft along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., And Senator Cory Booker, DN.J.
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The plan would also create an Opportunity Trust Fund from new cannabis tax revenues to invest in programs for communities hardest hit by the “failed war on drugs,” according to a draft law.
The plan to decriminalize marijuana is likely to be controversial in the Senate as it is opposed by Republicans and some moderate Democrats in general, and has not received approval from President Joe Biden. Schumer needs 60 votes, including at least 10 GOP votes, to get it through the Senate.
To date, 37 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis, and 18 states along with DC have legalized adult recreational use of the drug. However, the drug remains illegal under federal law.
Public polls show that nearly 70% of Americans support legalizing the drug.
“For decades, our federal government has waged a war on drugs that has unduly affected low-income and colored communities,” Booker said in a statement. “While the red and blue states across the country continue to legalize marijuana, the federal government continues to lag miserably. It’s time Congress lifted the federal marijuana ban and reinvested it in communities hardest hit by the failed war on drugs. “