Get Chuck Schumer to Support the Marijuana Justice Act

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The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed under President Nixon in the 1970’s classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. That is, marijuana is deemed to have no accepted medical use and is furthermore considered to have high potential for abuse and dependence. In relativistic terms, marijuana’s risk of abuse is currently classified as higher than both cocaine and methamphetamine, which are Schedule 2 drugs. While there have been petitions in the past for the DEA to reschedule marijuana, including petitions from the FDA and Health and Human Services, these petitions have all been denied. The reasons for this lack of rescheduling have been chalked up to everything from supposed racial motivations in Nixon’s original legislation and subsequent War on Drugs to a lack of research into actual medical benefits of marijuana. Regardless, policy and public opinion on marijuana has continued to evolve even without this change in scheduling. This shift is evidenced by the fact that today 30 States have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form, and eight of these States along with Washington D.C. have legalized it recreationally. Furthermore, public opinion has shifted dramatically in the past few decades. Support for the legalization of marijuana has increased substantially in the past 40 years. The importance of legislation on the legalization of marijuana cannot be overstated. Laws which seek to reschedule and decriminalize marijuana usage can be extremely beneficial for communities that are disproportionately impacted by current enforcement - communities that are often predominantly made up of minorities or low-income individuals. Furthermore, legislation on the legalization of marijuana could apply retrospectively to persons currently serving prison time for possession which would allow these individuals to appeal their cases. It is for these reasons that I believe the bill in question, S.1689 (Marijuana Justice Act) should be advocated for in the Senate so that the issue of marijuana can be legislated on effectively once and for all.

This Marijuana Justice act was introduced to the Senate on August 1st, 2017 by Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and is a companion Bill to H.R. 4815 in the House. The bill would decriminalize marijuana on a federal level by removing it entirely from the CSA. With respect to people currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana related crimes, this law would make it so that these individuals could petition the court for resentencing. Furthermore, the law would retroactively, expunge the records of all individuals convicted of marijuana possession. Aside from the goal of decriminalizing marijuana, this bill also looks to deal with the consequences that the War on Drugs has had on marginalized communities by creating a reinvestment fund for these communities. This reinvestment fund is meant to be paid for with $500,000,000 worth of funds withheld from States deemed to have a disproportionate arrest/incarceration rate for marijuana related offences by minority peoples. The bill’s policy hypothesis as given in Booker’s own words is to reverse the effects of the 1994 Crime Bill by creating incentives for states to change their marijuana laws. The incentives would be, of course, the funding for law enforcement and prisons that would be withheld if a states’ marijuana laws are found to be discriminatory.