Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerAfter 35 years, Congress should finally end the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine Reforming marijuana laws before the holidays: A three-pronged approach Black Caucus pushes for priorities in final deal MORE (D-N.J.) said he was “absolutely disappointed” that the topic of marijuana legalization was not brought up during the first Democratic debate Wednesday night.
"I am absolutely disappointed that wasn't an issue when you see voters turning out this issue all over the country," Booker told Business Insider following the debate.
Booker touted his comprehensive Marijuana Justice Act that he introduced this year as a reason for his frustration, saying that "as a guy who has one of the boldest bills" he would have liked to share his proposal with voters tuning in from across the country.
Booker made clear he believes marijuana legalization is closely tied to criminal justice reform, another cause he has championed during his time in the Senate.
"I would like to see the federal government end it's making marijuana illegal and pull back and let the states do what they want," Booker told the news outlet. "But I am also one of those people that thinks you cannot talk about marijuana legalization if in the same sentence you're not talking about expunging the records of those Americans who have criminal convictions for doing things that two of the last three presidents admitted to doing."
Booker’s bill to legalize marijuana nationwide was introduced in February and calls for the substance to be removed from the federal list of controlled substances, where it is currently a Schedule I drug. It would also expunge previous marijuana-related federal convictions.