The United States Congress has recently introduced groundbreaking new legislation to make cannabis legal on the federal level and get rid of marijuana possession charges nationwide. The bill, titled The Marijuana Justice Act of 2019, was first brought before Congress on February 28th.
The bill is sponsored by New Jersey Senator Corey Booker and co-sponsored by a group of Democratic senators, including Senators Michael Bennet (CO), Kirstin Gillibrand (NY), Jeff Merkley (OR), Bernie Sanders (VT), Elizabeth Warren (MA), and Rod Wyden (OR).
A companion bill was introduced to the House of Representatives by Representatives Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna. Said Khanna,
“Communities of color have been disproportionately impacted by misguided marijuana policy for far too long. Rep. Lee, Sen. Booker, and I are proud to introduce this important legislation and deliver justice for so many Americans.”
The Marijuana Justice Act of 2019 would legalize marijuana across the country and take cannabis off of the Drug Enforcement Agency’s list of controlled substances. In addition, the bill would retroactively expunge the criminal records of U.S. citizens charged with crimes relating to marijuana possession. Cities across the nation have already started to embark on this process individually, however, federal legalization would streamline the efforts of those who have been fighting tirelessly for criminal justice reform for decades.
Upon introducing the bill to Congress, Booker announced, “The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to reverse decades of this unfair, unjust, and failed policy by removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances and making it legal at the federal level. But it’s not enough to simply decriminalize marijuana. We must also repair the damage caused by reinvesting in those communities that have been most harmed by the War on Drugs. And we must expunge the records of those who have served their time. The end we seek is not just legalization, it’s justice.”
That same day, Sen. Booker tweeted enthusiastically, “TODAY: I’m reintroducing the Marijuana Justice Act – my bill to legalize marijuana on the federal level, expunge records, and reinvest in the communities that have been hurt from the war on drugs.”
Not only would the bill make cannabis legal throughout the United States, but it would also create incentives for more reluctant states to adopt legalization as soon as possible.
In another passionate post, this time on Facebook, Sen. Booker said, “The failed War on Drugs has really been a war on people – disproportionately criminalizing poor people, people of color & people with mental illness. I’m reintroducing the #MarijuanaJustice Act to begin reversing our failed federal drug policies. The Marijuana Justice Act doesn’t just end the federal prohibition on marijuana – it also holds states accountable that continue to enforce marijuana laws in a way that disproportionately impacts people of color and the poor.”
A similar bill was introduced by Sen. Booker back in 2017, also called the Marijuana Justice Act, however, at the time, the bill failed to make it past the Senate.