Derek Thomas – Political Analyst
Senator Cory Booker, one of the nations youngest Senators, and one of only two African-Americans in Congress, introduced a bill in the Senate yesterday which would cement Senator Booker a permanent spot in the hearts and memories of cannabis history.
Booker, a democrat from New Jersey, choose to name the bill the “Marijuana Justice Act”. If passed, the “Marijuana Justice Act” would remove marijuana from the Schedule of Controlled Substances and allow states to move forward with their own forms of regulated cannabis. And the name couldn’t fit any better.
It took activists well over a decade to pass the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment in 2015 (and yearly renewals to boot) which blocks federal funding for law enforcement to act against state-compliant businesses and individuals. According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, support of states’ rights for cannabis could hardly be stronger with 73% approval across the country. Senator booker’s bill is not the first bill to be introduced which aims to de-schedule cannabis at the federal level. The move would, for all intents and purposes, “decriminalize” cannabis production and possession, opening up the flood gates for state and federal funding for research, and investment and banking for businesses.
Senator Booker’s goals, with this particular legislation, does go beyond what previous attempts would have secured. Like all other bills, the New Jersey Senator wants to address the problems of the criminal and underground market, but he also wants to alleviate damages done to minority communities over the years by the United States’ inexplicably racist War on Drugs.
Booker released the following statement on Facebook after the announcement of his bill: “For decades, the failed War on Drugs has locked up millions of nonviolent drug offenders—especially for marijuana-related offenses—at an incredible cost of lost human potential, torn apart families and communities, and taxpayer dollars. The effects of the drug war have had a disproportionately devastating impact on Americans of color and the poor.”
Some of the truest words a politician has ever spoke.
If the bill makes it out of committee and eventually to the floow, the proposed legislation would offer the opportunity for current cannabis offenders in federal prison to have their cases re-examined for re-sentencing or commutation, and allow expungement for persons who have already been released for their cannabis crimes. The bill would also allocate federal funds to be used toward a “community reinvestment fund” to support employment and rehabilitation services for individuals who were formerly incarcerated for cannabis.
No wonder it’s called the “Marijuana Justice Act”!
Unfortunately, the likelihood of the bill passing in the senate and house is nil. The republicans have the majority in both, and mid-term elections aren’t for another year and a half.
None the less, Senator Booker deserves our thanks for acting out on what is clearly an unselfish sense of duty and commitment to people’s health and rights. Thank you Senator Booker, please be sure to continue introducing similar legislation to each new congressional body as long as you are in office!