Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and two Democratic senators said they will push sweeping marijuana legislation that will end the federal prohibition on the increasingly popular substance.
Additionally, the group, which includes Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) is also calling for restorative justice for those who have been convicted of marijuana related crimes.
In a joint statement, the group said they will release “a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform” this year and that passing the legislation will be a priority for the Senate.
“The War on Drugs has been a war on people—particularly people of color. Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country. But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs,” the group said in the statement.
The group added that their bill will also “protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations.
Marijuana has grown in popularity and now is widely used and accepted in the U.S. Last year alone, voters in New Jersey and Arizona legalized marijuana for recreational use and South Dakota legalized marijuana for both recreational and medicinal use. Today, 15 states and the District of Columbia allow recreational use and 36 states allow medical use of marijuana.
Many of the states that have legalized marijuana have done so for the tax revenue. Since Colorado legalized recreational use in 2014, the state has collected more than $1 billion in taxes which fund a wide range of services. Those include mental health services, youth literacy initiatives, and building a state-of-the-art middle school in Montrose County replacing a 56-year-old building.
In 2018, Schumer co-sponsored a marijuana legalization bill and last year the House passed a marijuana legalization bill. The bill got stuck in the Senate however, as Mitch McConnell refused to put the bill up for a vote.
“We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history, but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies. The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority,”