Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) thinks it’s time to federally decriminalize marijuana because “it’s the right thing to do—freedom.” The Senator’s surprising support for cannabis comes at a time when numerous bills in Congress would do just that.
But Schumer says he’ll be introducing his own legislation “to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level from one end of the country to the other. The legislation is long overdue… If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anyone else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal? Each state can decide on their own.”
Schumer explains that he too has “evolved” on this issue: “I studied the issue. We’ve now had some evidence. In Washington and other states, it’s done lots of good and no harm. Justice Brandeis said let the states be laboratories. Now’ve have had a few states, we’ve had a few laboratories. The experiment has been a success. Let’s nationalize it… Legalization is just fine… All the parade of horribles that people talked about didn’t occur. Crime did not spike in any place. There’s no evidence that young people are using drugs of any type more. The pathway issue hasn’t proven to be true. So it all makes sense. When you get evidence, you act on it.”
The Senator calls his thinking “practical – when so many people are incarcerated and not out there being productive citizens of society, that matters to the whole country… There are two paths here: One is decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level and there’s another path already being pursued in a bipartisan way by people like Sen. Booker and Sen. Durbin, which is criminal justice reform, which I also support. That’s a separate track dealing with people who’ve been unfairly punished… I’ve seen too many peoples’ lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long. It effects communities of color disproportionately and unfairly.”
SCHUMER: “Legalization is just fine. Let’s nationalize it. It’s the right thing to do.”
NORML has given Schumer a B grade regarding his support for marijuana legislation (he co-sponsored the CARERS Act). Schumer had previously said he was waiting to see how legalization went in states like Colorado and Washington. “I’m a little cautious on this,” he commented, noting that he wanted to “see the outcomes before we make a decision.”
With Colorado raking in $500 million in taxes since 2015 and no discernible uptick in crime or underage use in the nine legal recreational states, Schumer has clearly concluded that now is the time to pursue federal legislation that would effectively legalize marijuana by de-scheduling and hence removing it from the Controlled Substances Act.
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