A senate bill has been introduced this week to legalize cannabis across the entire US. The bill called the Marijuana Justice Act was introduced by Democratic Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey (pictured above) . It would both legalize cannabis on a federal level by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act and encourage individual states to legalize cannabis on a local level by offering incentives.
The Marijuana Justice Act would also allow for the release of the thousands of people currently in jail for cannabis related offenses. The bill would allow them to obtain new hearings and expunge any cannabis related offenses from their criminal records. The Marijuana Justice Act would also allow the federal government to deny federal funds for building jails and prisons from states that disproportionately target minorities in their sentencing laws. Victims of the drug war would also be allowed to sue if they felt their sentencing was racially motivated. “You see these marijuana arrests happening so much in our country, targeting certain communities — poor communities, minority communities — targeting people with an illness,” Senator Booker said during a Facebook Live streaming event announcing his legislation.
New Jersey is in the process of attempting to legalize cannabis for recreational use, much to the chagrin of current governor Chris Christie who has vowed to veto any legislation legalizing cannabis. Fortunately for New Jerseyans, Christie is not running for reelection. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy said that he would sign a legalization bill into law.
Of course, this bill has a very slim, if not nonexistent chance of passing the Republican controlled Senate. Susan Collins (R-ME) said that with the opiate crisis getting worse, legalizing cannabis would “send the wrong message.” Of course, the only message I can imagine being sent from legalizing cannabis is “here’s a better alternative to opiates.” Not even all of the Democrats are on board. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) says that she needs to know more information and she’s worried about young people driving while stoned. It should be noted here that Senator Feinstein has accepted half a million in donations from pharmaceutical lobbyists, so there might be just a slight conflict of interest there. Senator Booker also has ties to the pharmaceutical industry, so one must wonder what his motivation is. Personally, I think it’s because he’s planning on running for president. Regardless of his political motivations, I hope the Marijuana Justice Act passes. If it does, then it will go a long way towards repairing the damage caused by the drug war. If it doesn’t pass, then I know that another bill will take it’s place, and another and another.
Image Source: Huffington Post
What do you think? Does the Marijuana Justice Act stand a good chance on passing? Share in the comments!