Yesterday Senator Cory Booker introduced legislation that would legalize recreational marijuana on a federal level and incentivize states to do the same. This is by far the most comprehensive legislation introduced to date.
The Marijuana Justice Act
Senator Booker calls it the Marijuana Justice Act. This is similar to the bill that Senator Bernie Sanders introduced in 2015. The biggest difference is that in Booker’s bill he offers the federal incentives for states to follow suit.
Cory Booker is from New Jersey. He has seen places like Newark and Camden decimated by the war on drugs.
Booker introduced this legislation, in part, to combat the disproportionally high number of people with low income and people of color being arrested for marijuana possession. In a 2015 report from the Sentencing Project, it was reported that black Americans are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for Marijuana than their white counterparts. They are only 1.3 times more likely to use marijuana.
One doesn’t need to be good at math to know that does not add up.
What the New Bill Proposes
The Marijuana Justice Act would be an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act. This would effectively remove Marijuana and tetrahydrocannabinol or THC from the controlled substance list. Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 drug, right up there with heroin.
Federal laws governing Marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug are wreaking havoc in states that have now legalized. Everything from the ability to use banks and business tax deductions is restricted in states with legal recreational cannabis. Booker’s bill would remove those issues entirely.
Senator Booker’s bill would also send $500 million to a Community Reinvestment Fund. This is designed to defund prisons and pay for things like job training, reentry, and community centers in places most impacted by the war on drugs.
Marijuana in the United States
A large majority of Americans support legalization of recreational marijuana. It is a proven revenue generator in every state that has legalized. Colorado’s budget has such a surplus that they have been able to allocate millions of dollars for improving schools and infrastructure.
Opiate overdoses in states that have legalized marijuana have plummeted. Studies have shown marijuana is effective at assisting people to stop using opiates, both medicinally as well as recreationally.
“Ending federal marijuana prohibition would bring the law in line with the opinion of the growing majority of Americans who want states to be able to enact their own marijuana laws without harassment by the DEA. By divesting in prisons and reinvesting in job training and re-entry programs, this bill would move our country forward and prioritize building up our communities,” said Shaleen Title, founder of THC Staffing Group.