Senate

Senate Democrats unveiling push to legalize marijuana at federal level

Senate Democrats on Wednesday are unveiling a renewed push to legalize marijuana at the federal level. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) will hold a news conference to introduce a discussion draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.

According to a summary of the discussion draft obtained by NBC News, the legislation is intended to expunge federal convictions of nonviolent marijuana charges, remove the drug from the Controlled Substances Act and set up a system to tax marijuana in states that legalize it. 

The proposal still allows individual states to set their own marijuana laws, however.

A media advisory for the news conference states that the legislative proposal “would end the decades of harm inflicted on communities of color by removing cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances and empowering states to implement their own cannabis laws.”

Schumer told NBC’s “Today” show in an interview aired Wednesday morning he is working on getting the votes in the Senate for the legislation. 

Currently, 18 states have legalized recreational marijuana and 37 states have legalized medical marijuana.

Support for legalizing marijuana has increased exponentially over the years, with multiple polls finding a majority of Americans saying it should be legal.

“There is an urgency to this because there are people all over our country seeing their lives destroyed. They’re hurt,” Booker said on the “Today” show. 

President Biden has previously said he supports decriminalizing marijuana on the federal level and leaving it up to the states to choose whether to criminalize it.

The debate around marijuana was recently highlighted after sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was kicked off the Olympic team for testing positive for marijuana. Marijuana is legal in Oregon, where Richardson reportedly consumed it.

— Updated at 9:12 a.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Cory Booker Joe Biden legal marijuana Ron Wyden
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