The most recent news in the world of cannabis has shown that Congress could potentially be working to legalize the use of cannabis nationwide. One of Congress’s most vocal personnel against the use of drugs has now stated that he would like to begin the process of ending federal cannabis prohibition.
The Congressman is Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York. Schumer announced on Thursday, 4/19 that he would bring a bill to light that would remove the substance from the Controlled Substances Act altogether. This would be a huge step in the fight for fair marijuana legislation as no one has come this close in the past. The issue that currently stands is that cannabis is scheduled as a Schedule I narcotic as far as the federal government is concerned. This means that the drug has no potential for medicinal use as well as a high rate of addiction. Both of these claims have heavily been refuted by various scientists and research studies, thus the continuous need to end this unfair legislation.
Schumer stated recently in an interview that “the legislation is long overdue. I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined because they had small amounts of marijuana and served time in jail much too long.” The news comes at the same time that Sen. Bernie Sander of Vermont has joined several other Democratic candidates to sponsor even more liberal marijuana policy.
The bill that they would like to be put in place is known as the Marijuana Justice Act. This act would completely remove the substance from the Controlled Substances Act, and it would also help to withhold funding from states that have been notorious in racially profiling marijuana enforcement.
Justin Strekal, political director of NORML stated that “with this announcement, Senator Schumer has effectively made it clear that a legislative priority for the Democratic Party is to end the federal prohibition of marijuana. As Democratic Leader, it is his role to ensure that the caucus as a whole falls in line with this public policy position — a position that is held by more than 60% of Americans.” The bill would also according to one study “create some funding for minority and women-owned marijuana businesses, provide money for research into overall effects of marijuana and its specific effect on driving impairment.”
Schumer has long been considered an opponent against the use of cannabis, but this new statement is a complete paradigm shift for that opinion. Back in 2004, Schumer was recognized for his work on helping to end drug use in the U.S. by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Schumer began showing some signs that he may be shying away from this notion back in 2014, when he stated in an interview that states should be able to make their own laws regarding cannabis without any interference from the federal government. After 2014,
Schumer began watching the success of states that were able to legalize cannabis and stated that they are “laboratories,” and that “having the states experiment is a good idea” He then followed this by a series of quotes stating his growing support for the cannabis movement, which has now been followed by the aforementioned statements regarding the substance. He stated on twitter recently that “I believe that the States should continue to be the labs of democracy when it comes to recreational and medical marijuana. Jeff, this is one place where states rights works. Let each state decide.” Although the fight is still far from over, signs like these continue to shed a positive light on the future of cannabis and its legislation.