Home » Schumer intensifies push for federal pot legalization as Dems control Congress, White House
Schumer intensifies push for federal pot legalization as Dems control Congress, White House
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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who has in recent years become an increasingly loud proponent of marijuana legalization, said on the Senate floor Tuesday that "the time has come" to end federal prohibition of the drug.
"Today is what you might call a very unofficial American holiday: 4/20," Schumer said, recognizing the day that many Americans set aside for consuming pot in its many forms.
"For decades, young men and women, disproportionately young men and women of color, have been arrested and jailed for even carrying a small amount of marijuana… Being rejected from job after job — because of this minor, minor deviation from the law," Schumer continued. "I believe the time has come to end the federal prohibition on marijuana in this country — and I am working with Senators Booker and Wyden on legislation to do just that."
He said the legislation would not "only end the federal prohibition on marijuana" but also include social justice provisions, federal taxes and regulations.
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The House of Representatives already passed a similar bill last year called the MORE Act. It's possible it will do so again despite a shrunken Democrat majority.
But Senate Democrats are not unanimously on board with Schumer on pot legalization – Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., both recently told Politico they are against it.
And White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday highlighted that President Biden's position "isn’t the same as what the House and Senate have proposed."
"The president supports leaving decisions regarding legalization for recreational use up to the states; rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts; and, at the federal level, he supports decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging any prior criminal records," she said. "He also supports legalizing medicinal marijuana."
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., however, said he believes Biden's position is actually closer to Senate and House Democrats than it may appear.
"He believes in decriminalization. And as I said to him the first time we talked about it was, my bill is no different. I think states should be able to do what they want. I think it should be legalized. But what we need to do at the federal level is delist marijuana," Booker told the "Hell & High Water Podcast."