The Marijuana Justice Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, retroactively expunge marijuana convictions for non-violent offenders and create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities negatively impacted by the drug war
As the opioid crisis continues to plague communities throughout the country, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, introduced legislation Tuesday to end “the failed war on drugs” by legalizing cannabis at the federal level.
The Marijuana Justice Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes and incentivize states through federal funds to change their cannabis laws if those laws were shown to have a disproportionate effect on low-income individuals or people of color.
It would also allow people currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana use or possession to petition for resentencing.
Booker announced the legislation via Facebook Live.
“Tragically, in this country, if you’re African-American, you’re going to be arrested for using drugs almost four times more than someone who is white,” Booker said.
“Having grown up in a town that was privileged compared to Newark, you don’t see kids coming home from frat parties being stopped and frisked. You hear people bragging about using pot. If you go to poor communities, clearly this is not a laughing matter.”
Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration declined to reschedule marijuana. It is currently considered a Schedule I drug, as is heroin, LSD and ecstasy. Opioids, including the deadly fentanyl, are listed under Schedule II.
Lawmakers in New Jersey have slowly been chipping away at the state’s cumbersome medical marijuana legislation since then. In May, State Sen. Nicholas Scutari introduced a bill to make adult-use recreational cannabis legal, citing the program’s costly fees and restrictive measures. Earlier this year, residents at a Trenton townhall hearing accused Gov. Chris Christie of wanting the program to fail.
But with Christie leaving office at the end of the year, gubernatorial Democratic front-runner Phil Murphy said he supports legalization. And Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said she backs decriminalization.
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