U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J.) has introduced legislation that would remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, making pot legal at the federal level.
Booker’s bill, “The Marijuana Justice Act of 2017,” also would incentivize states by paying them with taxpayer money to change their marijuana laws if those laws were shown to have a disproportionate effect on low-income residents and people of color.
When and if the bill is passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, the legislation would be retroactive. It would apply to individuals currently serving prison sentences for marijuana-related offenses.
“Our country’s drug laws are badly broken and need to be fixed,” Booker said in a statement. “They don’t make our communities any safer; instead they divert critical resources from fighting violent crime, tear families apart, unfairly impact low-income communities and communities of color and waste billions in taxpayer dollars each year.”
Booker noted that states have taken the lead on this issue.
Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use, Booker said. The states are: Alaska, California, Nevada, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts and Maine.
And an editorial in the Los Angeles Times, one of the nation’s largest newspapers, said the legislation makes sense but it’s unlikely to pass.
In the war against marijuana, police are biased against blacks, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
The ACLU reported that blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana. Between 2001 and 2010, marijuana possession accounted for over half of all drug arrests, which was 8.2 million.
Booker’s bill does not have a Senate number and it isn’t known what Senate committee it has been sent to, if any. The Senate is on vacation.