WASHINGTON – Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a combined news release yesterday saying they would work together to advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation in the current Congress.
“The War on Drugs has been a war on people—particularly people of color. Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country. But that alone is not enough,” they said. “As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs.”
All three senators are known to support decriminalizing cannabis in some form. Schumer co-sponsored legislation to decriminalize cannabis in 2018 and said in a recent interview that he was working on a new federal marijuana legalization bill which empowers states to make their own decisions on where to invest the cannabis revenues.
“We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies,” the statement from the three senators reads. “The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority.”
It’s another encouraging sign for the industry, and echoes President Biden’s stated intention that he would support rescheduling cannabis to make it legal.
Last year, the House of Representatives passed the MORE Act, which would have legalized cannabis and expunged the criminal records of people convicted of cannabis-related crimes. The legislation died in the Republican-controlled Senate.
Wyden, now chairman of the Senate finance committee, said in November that he had a bill ready to go called the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act, which outlines a taxation and regulation structure for cannabis products. And Booker introduced a bill in 2019 — the Marijuana Justice Act — to legalize cannabis on a national level, with a focus on expunging federal convictions for marijuana use and possession and reinvesting in communities hardest hit by the War on Drugs.
“In the early part of this year, we will release a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations,” the three senators said. “Getting input from stakeholder groups will be an important part of developing this critical legislation.”