Washington, DC: Building upon the momentum of the passage of multiple successful statewide ballot initiatives this past November, as well as upon the recent House vote to advance the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act in final days of the 116th Congress, Senators Cory Booker, Ron Wyden, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer today issued a joint statement declaring their intention to release a draft discussion bill outlining how best to legalize and regulate cannabis and cannabis commerce in a post-prohibition America.
Senators Booker, Wyden, and Schumer said today:
“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. 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.
“We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies. The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority.
“In the early part of this year, we will release a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations. Getting input from stakeholder groups will be an important part of developing this critical legislation.”
Commenting on the announcement, NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:
“After years of marijuana policy reform being neglected and mocked by Mitch McConnell, it is heartening to see these Senate leaders working together to repeal the senseless and cruel policy of marijuana prohibition. 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.”
You can read an op-ed in The Hill Newspaper that we published last week by Strekal entitled What the shift in Senate control means for marijuana policy reform here.
Commenting on the announcement, Representative Earl Blumenauer, a co-chair of the Cannabis Caucus, said:
“I’m very excited that our champions in the Senate — Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden – are prepared to move forward together on comprehensive cannabis legislation. Last year, we moved heaven and earth to get a bill passed through the House with key criminal justice and restorative justice provisions, but Mitch McConnell blocked consideration. Now, new Senate leadership is prepared to pick up the mantle. The MORE Act – a product of years of work with advocates, cannabis industry leaders, and state governments – is a great foundation. We look forward to working with the Senate to refine the bill, advance its core principles, and end the federal prohibition of cannabis once and for all. 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.”