Senate Democrats say consideration of cannabis reforms will be a priority


A group of Senate Democrats on Monday said it is committed to “comprehensive cannabis reform” and called for the end of the federal prohibition of marijuana.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) along with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in a joint statement that the Senate would be making cannabis reform a “priority.”

“The War on Drugs has been a war on people — particularly people of color. Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country,” the statement read. “But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs.”

In a separate statement, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), co-chairman of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, voiced support for the efforts.

Blumenauer blamed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for blocking congressional efforts to pass cannabis reform bills in the past.

The formerly GOP-led Senate, headed by McConnell when he was majority leader, did not take up measures related to cannabis.

“The missing ingredient in cannabis reform has been Senate action. To finally have the active leadership of the new Senate majority leader, rather than being stuck in McConnell’s legislative graveyard, makes all the difference in the world,” Blumenauer said.

Justin Strekal, political director for the marijuana law reform organization NORML, also pinned blame on McConnell for neglecting and mocking marijuana reform policies. In a statement released in response to the senators, he said he was “heartened” to see senators working to repeal “senseless and cruel” marijuana policies. 

“We look forward to constructively engaging with Congressional leaders, other organizations, and those communities that have historically been most impacted by criminalization in order to ensure that we craft the strongest and most comprehensive bill possible to right the wrongs of the nearly a century of federal cannabis prohibition,” Strekal said.

Marijuana, classified as a Schedule I drug, is currently legal for recreational use among adults in 15 states, the District of Columbia and two U.S. territories, according to NBC News. Thirty-four states and two territories currently allow medical marijuana use. Fifteen states and the U.S. territory of American Samoa do not have any laws that allow marijuana.

Tags Cannabis Cannabis in the United States Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Cory Booker Decriminalization of non-medical cannabis in the United States Earl Blumenauer Mitch McConnell National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Ron Wyden

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