DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced legislation Wednesday that would end the federal government’s prohibition of marijuana. The proposal is co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).
The bill, titled the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, leaving its legal status to the states, while maintaining the federal government’s authority to prevent trafficking of marijuana from states that have legalized it to those that have not. It would also provide grants to state and local governments to develop or expand expungement or record-sealing programs for marijuana possession convictions, and it would direct marijuana tax money to the Small Business Administration to provide loans to marijuana businesses owned and controlled by women and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The proposal also allocates funds to marijuana-related public health and safety research. The full bill is available here.
Matt Schweich, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project commented, “This proposal is yet another sign that Congress is moving toward a major shift in U.S. marijuana policy. Senate leaders from both parties have now signaled their support for ending prohibition at the federal level and adopting a system that respects state laws regulating marijuana for medical and adult use. The debate is transitioning from whether marijuana should be legalized to how it should be legalized. There are still hurdles to overcome in Congress, just as there are for any other issue, but things are clearly headed in the right direction. A strong and growing majority of Americans think it is time to end marijuana prohibition, and states are moving quickly to develop their own marijuana policies. Members of Congress do not want to find themselves on the wrong side of history — or their constituents.”