Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries announced Thursday they are reintroducing legislation that would remove marijuana from the federal controlled substances list.
This bill would decriminalize the drug at a national level and effectively leaving states to decide their own marijuana laws.
The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, which was introduced during the last Congress but stalled, would deschedule marijuana, help states expunge low-level marijuana convictions, and allocate funding for minority and women-owned marijuana businesses.
Despite increasing legalization in the states, marijuana on the federal level is currently classified as a Schedule I drug alongside others like heroin and LSD that are deemed to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical value.
The bill joins a handful of other measures already introduced in Congress that seek to reform federal marijuana prohibition and indicates that marijuana will be a top policy priority for congressional Democrats.
Schumer is introducing the bill in the Senate, while Jeffries is sponsoring companion legislation in the House. Both lawmakers are Democrats from New York.
“What we’re saying is very simple: Let each state do what it wants,” Schumer said in a video announcing the bill’s introduction. “There’s not going to be the heavy hand of the government telling you you can’t.”
The bill is poised to garner at least some Republican support amid evidence of a growing appetite in Congress for federal marijuana reform. A measure that would shield people complying with state marijuana laws from federal intervention – essentially giving control over marijuana laws to states – is backed by members of both parties. Attorney General William Barr has indicated that he would support that bill, dubbed the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act, or STATES Act.
The measure introduced by Schumer and Jeffries would also allocate funding for studies on the health impacts of marijuana and road safety.
Source: U.S. & World Report News
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