Many have come before. All have failed. But one crusading senator is going whole hog on a new bill that make sweeping changes to the nation’s federal marijuana policies. The crusader in question is Sen. Cory Booker (D – New Jersey) and the bill in question was introduced on Tuesday, as reported by The Cannabist.
According to Booker, federal cannabis laws have had a “devastating impact” and he aims to change them through some incredibly ambitious reversals of policy. Among other changes, Booker’s bill would remove cannabis altogether from the Controlled Substances Act, expunge federal marijuana possession and use crimes, allow convicts currently serving sentences for marijuana crimes to petition for a resentencing, and create a system of incentives for states with legal cannabis and with proportionate marijuana arrest rates for minority and low income peoples.
As of now the bill has no co-sponsors but Booker says he’s “hoping that we work toward bipartisan support.” And nothing says bipartisan support like ending the drug war and seeming to infringe on states’ rights.
This is not Booker’s first shot at this. Among previous efforts to reshape federal marijuana policy was 2015’s Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which would have brought an end to federal prosecution of state-legalized medical marijuana operations and re-designate marijuana a Schedule II or III drug.
That bill, which was co-sponsored by Republican Senator Rand Paul and which came to the Senate during the Obama administration, failed. And this new one is, in the words of Marijuana Majority head honcho Tom Angell, “the single most far-reaching marijuana bill that’s ever been filed in either chamber of Congress.” The bill, he says, “goes even further by actually punishing states that have bad marijuana laws.”
All of that is certainly admirable, but may not make the bill any easier to pass. Still, Booker’s efforts and his message are essential for the future of marijuana advocacy. “None of that’s possible, though, unless people are demanding it. We the people must make that demand and insist upon it,” the senator said in a Facebook Live video. “We need to seek not just to change the law, but be agents of restorative justice.”
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