Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris on 2020 endorsement: 'I am not thinking about it right now' Panel: Is Kamala Harris a hypocrite for mulling a Joe Biden endorsement? The Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power MORE (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerTrump defense team signals focus on Schiff Impeachment has been a dud for Democrats Nadler calls Trump a 'dictator' on Senate floor MORE (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday are introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana and erase previous convictions. 

The bill, known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. It would also allow for individuals to have previous arrests or convictions removed from their records or to be resentenced under the new law.

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"Times have changed — marijuana should not be a crime. ... We need to start regulating marijuana, and expunge marijuana convictions from the records of millions of Americans so they can get on with their lives," Harris, who is running for the White House, said in a statement.

Nadler added that individuals who currently have criminal convictions for marijuana face "second class citizenship."

"It’s past time to right this wrong nationwide and work to view marijuana use as an issue of personal choice and public health, not criminal behavior," he said.

The legislation would block use or possession of marijuana from being used to deny federal benefits or to block immigrants from receiving benefits or legal protections.

It also authorizes Congress to use tax revenue generated by the marijuana industry to create three funds to help individuals adversely impacted by the "war on drugs."

A community reinvestment grant would provide services including job training, legal aid and literacy programs; the cannabis opportunity grant would give funding to small businesses in the marijuana industry that are owned by "socially and economically disadvantaged individuals," and an equitable licensing grant would fund programs that make it easier to get marijuana licensing and employment for individuals "most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs."

The legislation is endorsed by nearly a dozen outside groups including the Drug Policy Alliance, Center for American Progress and National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

“America’s black and brown communities have paid the heaviest price for this country’s drug war. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act marks an unprecedented step toward repairing this harm and represents the responsible way to move forward on marijuana policy,” said Ed Chung,  the vice president of criminal justice reform at the Center for American Progress.

But the bill faces an uphill path to getting sent to President TrumpDonald John TrumpKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Kaine: GOP senators should 'at least' treat Trump trial with seriousness of traffic court Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg MORE's desk. Though Nadler has jurisdiction over the issue in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer: Trump's team made case for new witnesses 'even stronger' Trump, Democrats risk unintended consequences with impeachment arguments CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE (R-Ky.) has previously shot down taking up legislation to lessen marijuana-related penalties.

“I do not have any plans to endorse the legalization of marijuana,” he told reporters last year.

Decriminalizing marijuana has been a point of agreement for several of Harris's 2020 Democratic primary opponents.

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSenate Dems to Pompeo: Comments about NPR reporter 'insulting and contemptuous' Black caucus in Nevada: 'Notion that Biden has all of black vote is not true' The Hill's 12:30 Report: House managers to begin opening arguments on day two MORE (D-N.J.), for example, has offered legislation to remove it from the Controlled Substance Act and expunge federal sentences. Booker's bill has other White House candidates including Harris, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersKaine: Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during 2016 campaign Des Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDes Moines Register endorses Elizabeth Warren as Democratic presidential nominee Sanders faces lingering questions about appeal to women voters Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for week two of impeachment trial MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandGOP-Biden feud looms over impeachment trial Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE (D-N.Y.) as co-sponsors.