Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Representative Hakeem Jeffries have refiled their bill to remove marijuana from the feds controlled substances list.
“The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is a phenomenal step forward in terms of social, racial, and economic justice in the context of what many people view as the failed War on Drugs that has been with us for decades,” Rep. Jeffries said in a video released Friday. The heart of the bicameral bill is that it would remove marijuana from the federal government’s list of controlled substances.
This would allow states to decide their own marijuana laws without fear of federal interference – in turn, this would provide explicit protections to states that have already legalized marijuana.
“It’s time to decriminalize marijuana, and this bill is a critical first step,” said Schumer. “The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act would give states the right to make their own choices when it comes to regulation; better equip all Americans, particularly communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana’s criminalization, to participate in the growing marijuana economy; and, by incentivizing sealing and expungement programs, provide Americans with low-level marijuana convictions the opportunity to move forward.”
NORML Political Director Justin Strekal says that “The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is comprehensive legislation that would end our nation’s failed 80-year prohibition of marijuana and allow states to implement reforms free from the threat of federal interference.”
Strekal continues; “This bill is part of the continued shift of Democratic Party leadership. At a time when 68 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, including outright majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent), it is time for ending federal prohibition to become a truly bipartisan issue in the eyes of voters.
Legislative relief must come sooner rather than later. Over 650,000 Americans, disproportionately black, brown, young, and poor, are arrested for violating marijuana laws annually. Those without the means to defend themselves from the state bear the greatest burden and lifelong consequences of this ongoing failed federal policy. It is time for Congressional leaders to take a stand to right these past wrongs.
The importance of this bill’s emphasis on facilitating the expunging of individual criminal records for marijuana possession cannot be overstated. Millions of Americans have suffered from the lifelong collateral consequences of criminal prohibition, making it harder for them to find a job, obtain housing, and access higher education.”
Continuing, Strekal says that “As states dial back their war on marijuana consumers, it is important that those who were impacted by this oppressive prohibition are able to see previous harms remedied, and be provided the opportunity to participate in the benefits that come along with legalization and regulation.”
Unfortunately although the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is a massive step forward and would effectively end the federal prohibition on marijuana, it would not actually legalize marijuana.
“What we’re saying is very simple; let each state do what it wants,” says Schumer.