The Democratic Senate leadership has a plan to legalize marijuana at the federal level sometime this year.
In a joint statement released Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, and Senator Cory Booker explained how the democratically controlled upper chamber will prioritize federal marijuana legalization in the new Congress . They plan to put laws in place in the coming weeks to create a taxed and regulated cannabis market.
“Ending the federal marijuana ban is necessary to eradicate the wrongs of this failed war and end the decades of damage inflicted on color communities across the country,” Senators Booker, Wyden and Schumer said in a statement. “We are determined to work together to propose and advance comprehensive cannabis reform laws that will not only turn this sad chapter of American history on its head, but also undo the devastating effects of these discriminatory policies,” the legislature continued. “The Senate will make considering these reforms a priority.”
Since the Democrats won a majority in the Senate, there has been much speculation about how the federal legalization of marijuana would play out. Schumer himself said last week that marijuana reform would be a priority. Even so, he stopped saying that this would involve full legalization.
Instead, he pretended that it was more likely that this reform would be wrapped up in a much larger law on racial justice – suggesting that decriminalization might be an option. After all, the Democratic Party’s recent platform shows that they intend to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. President Joe Biden agreed that this is the right step.
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The US House of Representatives passed a law legalizing marijuana by the federal government last December, but this was ignored by the then Republican-controlled Senate. Schumer said earlier last year that if the Democrats took control of the Senate, a law legalizing marijuana would go down and it would likely be passed. It seems he is wasting no time seeing this.
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“Earlier this year, we will publish a unified draft discussion on major reforms to ensure restorative justice, protect public health, and implement responsible taxes and regulations,” said the Senate legislature. “Obtaining input from stakeholders will be an important part of developing this critical piece of legislation.”
Cannabis advocates are thrilled that the cannabis narrative has changed so much on Capitol Hill.
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“After years of neglecting and ridiculing marijuana policy reform, Mitch McConnell is encouraging to see these Senate leaders work together to undo the pointless and cruel policy of prohibiting marijuana,” said Justin Strekal, NORML political director. “We look forward to working constructively with the leaders of Congress, other organizations, and the communities hardest hit by criminalization in the past to ensure we produce the strongest, most comprehensive bill to address the injustice of the nearly centenarian Federal to correct cannabis ban. “
It is not immediately clear what President Biden thinks of this announcement. While the president supports the removal of the criminal penalties associated with pot ownership, legalization doesn’t exactly sell it off. But proponents hope they can convince him to follow Congress. If he does, 2021 could be the year marijuana finally becomes legal in the United States.