Gillibrand unveils marijuana legalization plan

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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday unveiled her plan to legalize marijuana, saying that ending the federal prohibition on the drug would be “a top priority of my presidency.” 

Gillibrand said the “unfair” enforcement of federal marijuana laws has had disproportionate impacts on communities of color and prevents medical patients access to the drug to treat chronic pain or other conditions.

{mosads}“These are real injustices that affect millions of Americans and multiple areas of our society, and it’s past time to get to work making them right,” Gillibrand said in a Medium post.

The New York Democrat’s plan includes establishing a process to regulate and tax marijuana production, expunging all nonviolent marijuana convictions, expanding medical access to marijuana to all private and many federal health plans, investing in research into the drug’s health benefits, and directing funds gained through taxes to communities of color and women- and minority-owned small cannabis businesses. 

Gillibrand said her plan seeks to nationalize progress made in a handful of states that have already legalized marijuana. The drug is legal for recreational use in 10 states and the District of Columbia and is legal for medical use in 33 states.

“We’ve made great progress in recent years on legalizing marijuana at the state and municipal level, and we’ve seen the positive benefits in states like Colorado, Washington, and more. But a state-by-state patchwork is not enough to tackle the deeply rooted racial, social, and economic injustices within our marijuana laws, or to fully unleash the economic equity and opportunity of marijuana legalization,” Gillibrand said.

“With this plan, we can begin to dismantle the institutional racism in our criminal justice system, open up important new medical and economic horizons, and lift up communities who need and deserve a fair shot at opportunity.”

Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have already come out in support of legalizing marijuana, with many touching on the current laws’ disproportionate impacts on people of color. 

The calls follow a steady rise in public support for marijuana legalization. A poll released in April found that 65 percent of Americans surveyed, a record high, believe it should be legal.

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