Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

Harris, Nadler introduce bill to decriminalize marijuana

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisSenate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam House passes bill to compensate 'Havana syndrome' victims Harris 'deeply troubled' by treatment of Haitian migrants MORE (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerBiden to raise refugee cap to 125,000 in October Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan Angelina Jolie spotted in Capitol meeting with senators 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 TrumpUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Trump sues NYT, Mary Trump over story on tax history McConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling MORE's desk. Though Nadler has jurisdiction over the issue in the House, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell, Shelby offer government funding bill without debt ceiling Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Woodward: Milley was 'setting in motion sensible precautions' with calls to China 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 BookerDOJ announces agencywide limits on chokeholds and no-knock entries Fighting poverty, the Biden way Top Senate Democrats urge Biden to take immediate action on home confinement program 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 SandersFranken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Pelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill top line higher than Senate's Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war MORE (I-Vt.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenBipartisan senators to hold hearing on 'toxic conservatorships' amid Britney Spears controversy Senate advances Biden consumer bureau pick after panel logjam White House faces increased cries from allies on Haitian migrants MORE (D-Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandHochul tells Facebook to 'clean up the act' on abortion misinformation after Texas law Democratic senators request probe into Amazon's treatment of pregnant employees The FBI comes up empty-handed in its search for a Jan. 6 plot MORE (D-N.Y.) as co-sponsors.