Washington, D.C., USA: Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has introduced a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the Federal Level. The bill introduced on Wednesday also takes steps to repair harms of prohibition, including a new grant program to facilitate expungement for people convicted of marijuana possession. Senator Schumer first announced his plans for this bill two months ago.
“The time to decriminalize marijuana is now,” said Senator Schumer. “The new Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is about giving states the freedom to be the laboratories that they should be and giving Americans – especially women and minority business owners as well as those convicted of simple possession of marijuana intended for personal use- the opportunity to succeed in today’s economy. This legislation is simply the right thing to do and I am hopeful that the balanced approach it takes can earn bipartisan support in Congress and across the country.” Senator Schumer said upon the bill’s introduction.
The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act co-sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine, and Tammy Duckworth removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and to provide funding for the expungement of criminal records for those with past marijuana convictions.
The bill would preserve the federal government’s ability to prevent trafficking from states where it would be legal to states where it is not, the statement said.
The legislation would also invest $500 million over the span of five years to the Department of Health and Human Services for medical marijuana research and understanding the effects of THC.
Under the bill, states would be allowed to seal or expunge individual marijuana possession records.
Schumer said in a statement that the legislation is “simply the right thing to do.”
EARLIER: On 4/20, Sen. Chuck Schumer’s Bill Will “Decriminalize” Marijuana In U.S. – Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, (D-New York), said Thursday, that he will introduce a bill, within the week, that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. The bill would reportedly remove marijuana from Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances, and would give states the authority over how to regulate the drug.
“The legislation is long overdue based on, you know, a bunch of different facts,” Schumer said. “I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long.”
“If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal,” he added.
Schumer’s bill would not legalise marijuana outright, but instead allow states to decide whether to make the drug available commercially.
It would end the limbo that marijuana sellers find themselves in, months after Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidance that prevented federal law enforcement officials from interfering with the marijuana business in states where it had legal status.
“The bill lets the states decide and be the laboratories that they ought to be,” Schumer said. “It also will ensure that minority- and woman-owned businesses have a dedicated funding stream to help them compete against bigger companies in the marijuana business. Critically, we ensure that advertising can’t be aimed at kids, and put real funds behind research into the health effects of THC,” referring to the primary psychoactive substance in marijuana.
The legislation would also maintain federal authority to regulate marijuana advertising in the same way it does alcohol and tobacco advertising. The aim, Schumer said, is to ensure that marijuana businesses aren’t allowed to target children in their advertisements.
“The time for decriminalisation has come, and I hope we can move the ball forward on this,” Schumer said.
Schumer’s disclosure, on the eve of 4/20 day, comes after another Democratic senator, Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) introduced the Marijuana Justice Act in August.
Booker’s legislation would eliminate marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substance Act and require federal courts to expunge the records of Americans who have prior marijuana convictions related to use or possession.
Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have all expressed support for the Marijuana Justice Act. A matching bill in the House also has more than 20 cosponsors.
A group of U.S. health experts on Thursday endorsed the use of a medicine made from the marijuana plant to treat seizures in children. If the Food and Drug Administration follows the group’s recommendation, it would become the first drug derived from the cannabis plant to win federal approval in the country.