Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Democratic Senators urge FTC to prevent coronavirus price gouging Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men MORE (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerHouse Judiciary Committee postpones hearing with Barr amid coronavirus outbreak House Democrats plead with key committee chairman to allow remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Pelosi rejects calls to shutter Capitol: 'We are the captains of this ship' 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 orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE's desk. Though Nadler has jurisdiction over the issue in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Trump signs T coronavirus relief package Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing 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 BookerLawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men Amazon doubling overtime pay for warehouse workers 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 SandersHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Overnight Energy: Court upholds Trump repeal of Obama fracking rule | Oil price drop threatens fracking boom | EPA eases rules on gasoline sales amid coronavirus The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders pushes on in 2020 race MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Democratic Senators urge FTC to prevent coronavirus price gouging Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandProgressive advocates propose T 'green stimulus' plan Juan Williams: Biden's promises on women are a big deal Cuomo steps into national spotlight with coronavirus fight MORE (D-N.Y.) as co-sponsors.