New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, an outspoken advocate for cannabis law reform, recently introduced a new bill to the US Senate. Titled the Marijuana Justice Act, the bill would completely remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. Unfortunately, many Senators have already voiced their concern over the bill, believing that it may go too far for them.
Booker made an announcement on August 1, 2017, through Twitter before he officially introduced the bill.
“My bill does a number of things,” Booker said in the video. “First and foremost it de-schedules marijuana from the list of controlled substances, thus making it no longer illegal in federal law.”
Only a few hours later, Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas commented on his own Twitter account, “Big mistake.” The Senator immediately began to receive reply after reply from his constituents who took him to task over his comment … without a single comment in support of his post 24 hours later.
Senators from prohibitionist states were not the only ones to question the bill. Even some Senators from legal recreational cannabis states, like Democrat Diane Feinstein of California and moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine, also came out in opposition to the bill.
“I’m not there. I think there’s a lot about marijuana we don’t know,” Feinstein told Rolling Stone. “I think marijuana has potential dangers to it. I think they need to be looked at—calibrated. I think we need to be concerned about young people, without judgment, particularly in cars. Particularly on Saturday night, smoking marijuana, candidly.”
“I do not support a national, a federal effort to decriminalize marijuana,” Collins also explained to Rolling Stone. “We’re in the midst of an opioid crisis in this country and I think the last thing we need is for the federal government to send a signal that marijuana should be legalized across this country.”
With all the cannabis legislation in Congress this year, this new bill is hands-down the furthest reaching. It would completely remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) as well as expunge convictions of people previously convicted of cannabis possession and use. It goes a step further and punishes communities that have a disproportionate arrest or incarceration rate for marijuana convictions against minorities or the poor by removing federal funds for prison and jail construction and staffing.
It would even allow for restitution to adversely affected areas with an “incentive pool” of federal funds. Booker explained in his announcement, “[S]ome communities devastated by marijuana laws will be able to apply for reinvestment funds, to help pay for community centers, public libraries, youth centers and other infrastructure and social needs.”
It’s a big deal. It is the strongest bill ever introduced in Congress to end marijuana prohibition, by almost every account.
Salon’s article on the Act was entitled, “The First Serious Federal Weed Legalization Bill Ever Just Hit Congress.” And, even Forbes magazine supports Booker’s efforts, saying, “Senator Cory Booker’s bill, the Marijuana Justice Act, is a good step toward legalization nationwide. But it needs to go further.”
“This is the single most far-reaching marijuana bill that’s ever been filed in either chamber of Congress,” explained Tom Angell, founder of the Marijuana Majority, in a statement. “More than just getting the federal government out of the way so that states can legalize without DEA harassment, this new proposal goes even further by actually punishing states that have bad marijuana laws. Polls increasingly show growing majority voter support for legalization, so this is something that more senators should be signing on to right away.”
Download the Marijuana Justice Act at: https://www.documentcloud.org.
Original article from Oregon Cannabis Connection in their Aug/Sep 2017 print issue. syndicated by special permission.