On Wednesday, Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) along with over a dozen original co-sponsors introduced The Marijuana Justice Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and incentivize states to end the racially disparate criminalization of marijuana consumers. This bill is a companion version to legislation introduced in 2017 in the Senate by Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said:
“The Marijuana Justice Act is by far the most comprehensive piece of legislation ever introduced federally when it comes to ending our failed policy of prohibition and addressing the egregious harms that policy has wrought on already marginalized communities.”
“This robust legislation not only removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, but it also provides a path forward for the individuals and communities that have been most disproportionately targeted by our nation’s failed war on marijuana consumers.”
“The ongoing enforcement of cannabis prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, impedes legitimate scientific research into the plant’s medicinal properties, and disproportionately impacts communities of color.”
“It is time for federal lawmakers to acknowledge this reality. It is time to stop ceding control of the marijuana market to untaxed criminal enterprises and for lawmakers to implement common-sense regulations governing cannabis’ personal use by adults and licensing its production.”
The Marijuana Justice Act would:
- Remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances making it legal at the federal level;
- Incentivize states through federal funds to change their marijuana laws if marijuana in the state is illegal and it disproportionately arrests or incarcerates minority and poor people for marijuana-related offenses;
- Automatically expunge federal marijuana use and possession records;
- Allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison to petition a court for a resentencing;
- Create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs and allow the money to go towards the following programs:
- Job training;
- Reentry services;
- Expenses related to the expungement of convictions;
- Public libraries;
- Community centers;
- Programs and opportunities dedicated to youth; and
- Health education programs.
“I’m proud to introduce the Marijuana Justice Act – bold, progressive legislation to address the legacy of racial bias in marijuana enforcement and to end the failed War on Drugs,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Today, we are asking Congress to turn the page on decades of unjust marijuana prohibition and forge a new path forward. It’s past time that we take decisive action to right the wrongs from decades of misguided policies.”
Thirty states, Washington, DC and the US territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis, while an estimated 63 million Americans now reside in jurisdictions where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. Voters overwhelmingly support these policy changes.
To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue. Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that 123,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.
To view NORML’s Factsheets which dispel the common myths regarding marijuana reform, visit: http://norml.org/marijuana/
NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable.
More information can be found at http://norml.org/