Bill Introduced to Federally Decriminalize Marijuana
Schumer's bill is in competition with 2 others
Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a bill on June 28th that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
The Democrat from New York announced the bill back in April. If it passes, it would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, where it is classified as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD.
The senator’s office said in a press release that under the bill, individual states would still be able to determine their own marijuana laws, though it would be decriminalized at the federal level. The bill would not interfere with federal law enforcement’s pursuit of trafficking from states where pot is legal to states where it is still banned.
Under the bill, a specific amount of tax revenue would be diverted to a Treasury trust fund for the “small business concerns” of women and “socially and economically disadvantaged” individuals working in the marijuana industry.
Furthermore, advertising for cannabis and related products would be restricted for youths if Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration concluded that doing so would be “appropriate for the protection” of the health of kids ages 18 and younger.
Earlier in June, Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Cory Gardner, R-Colorado introduced a similar bill aimed at loosening federal guidelines and giving states more wiggle room when determining their own marijuana laws.
Both bills are in competition with Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey’s Marijuana Justice Act, which not only aims to deschedule cannabis, but also to create funding for communities where the War on Drugs has been especially hard-fought. It would exonerate marijuana offenders, erasing their federal records.
President Donald Trump said in April that he would back efforts to protect states with existing marijuana laws, Sen. Schumer reminded the public in a statement.
“The new Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is about giving states the freedom to be the laboratories that they should be and giving Americans — especially women and minority business owners as well as those convicted of simple possession of marijuana intended for personal use — the opportunity to succeed in today’s economy.”
Schumer’s bill was co-sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine, and Tammy Duckworth.
Americans’ attitudes are shifting when it comes to marijuana legalization.
The results of a survey published in April 2017 showed that 83% of respondents said they supported the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, and 49% expressed support for recreational weed. Approximately 25% of Americans were in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana in 1995, according to a 2016 Gallup poll.
A Pew Research poll published in early 2017 found that nearly 2/3 of the nearly 8,000 police officers surveyed said pot should be legalized for both medicinal and recreational use.
 Cannabis Now
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.