Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisRepublicans would need a promotion to be 'paper tigers' Democrats' reconciliation bill breaks Biden's middle class tax pledge We have a presidential leadership crisis — and it's only going to get worse MORE (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerMore than 200 women, transgender inmates to be transferred from Rikers Island Alabama using COVID funds to build new prisons — is that Biden's vision? Alabama clears plan to use COVID-19 relief funds to build prisons 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 TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE's desk. Though Nadler has jurisdiction over the issue in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Biden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan 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 BookerDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Senators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' 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 SandersPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks Sanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenMisguided recusal rules lock valuable leaders out of the Pentagon Biden's soft touch with Manchin, Sinema frustrates Democrats Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Biden signs bill to help victims of 'Havana syndrome' Lawmakers using leadership PACs as 'slush funds' to live lavish lifestyles: report MORE (D-N.Y.) as co-sponsors.