Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisEight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report The Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters MORE (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerGOP memo deflects some gun questions to 'violence from the left' House Democrats urge Trump to end deportations of Iraqis after diabetic man's death French officials call for investigation of Epstein 'links with France' 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 TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE's desk. Though Nadler has jurisdiction over the issue in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump faces crucial decisions on economy, guns Are Democrats turning Trump-like? House Democrat calls for gun control: Cities can ban plastic straws but 'we can't ban assault weapons?' 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 BookerEight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Biden, Buttigieg bypassing Democratic delegate meeting: report F-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever 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 SandersTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall Top aide Jeff Weaver lays out Sanders's path to victory MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Eight Democratic presidential hopefuls to appear in CNN climate town hall In shift, top CEOs say shareholder value not top goal MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump on defense over economic jitters F-bombs away: Why lawmakers are cursing now more than ever White House offers reassurances amid recession fears as 2020 candidates sound alarm MORE (D-N.Y.) as co-sponsors.