A number of possible rivals in the next Democratic presidential nomination are joining forces to make a law that may possibly end the federal government’s war on marijuana.
Last week, Bernie Sanders, the U.S. Senator from Vermont and a presidential nominee for the Democrats in the last U.S. election, signed to co-sponsor the Marijuana Justice Act.
The Marijuana Justice Act was introduced by Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and it aims to terminate the cannabis prohibition. It also goes much further by proposing what Mr. Booker calls ‘restorative justice’.
Political analysts and the media presumes that both Senator Booker and Sanders will be vying for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Another rumored candidate for the nomination of the Democratic party is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.
Sen. Gillibrand is also a co-sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act.
Although these Senators may just be several months away from the start of a heated and probably intense political nominating competition, they are collaborating and working together in promoting the most progressive marijuana reform law ever to be proposed in the Congress.
“Leaders in the Democratic Party are increasingly recognizing that leading the charge on legalization is not only good policy but good politics,” Justin Strekal said in an interview. “The constituencies which the party claims to stand for are the ones who have most felt the weight of prohibition and the lifelong consequences of prohibition.”
Justin Strekal is the political director of NORML.
Chuck Schumer, a Senate Democratic Minority Leader from New York also revealed that he plans to file another supplementary far-reaching cannabis law reform legislation.
If the Marijuana Justice Act gets passed, it would take marijuana out of the Controlled Substances Act. States can then freely legalize it without the interference of the federal government.
Once it’s passed, it would also deny the funding for the anti-cannabis operations in states where the substance is still illegal.
Reports have shown that incarcerations related to cannabis are still racially disproportionate. According to the American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU, persons of color are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites even though their consumption is about the same rate.
We are spending $80 billion locking people up. Think about what it would mean if we invested that money in our people instead of more jails. https://t.co/Rd8DgfudcC
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) April 19, 2018
The legislation of the Marijuana Justice Act would also direct the federal laws of the court to decriminalize and wipe out the cannabis-related convictions in the past.
This would also allow the people who were penalized under unduly forced marijuana laws to file civil cases against their states.
Funds withheld from the states who will still continue with discriminatory cannabis restrictions would be then utilized to subsidize training for the unemployed and libraries all over the country.
Senator Booker and Senator Sanders met last Thursday and discussed the legislation on a Facebook live chat.
Honored @SenSanders joined my bill, the Marijuana Justice Act, to end the federal prohibition on marijuana.
It’s time we reverse decades of failed drug policy that has disproportionately impacted low-income individuals and people of color.
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBooker) April 19, 2018
Senator Sanders was the first major nominee to endorse the legalization of marijuana on his run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016. Sanders also filed a bill in the 114th Congress that proposes the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.
Schedule I or Class I drugs are banned because these substances have the potential for abuse, has no medicinal properties, and consumption could lead to severe health concerns.
As of this time, marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug.
Despite being legal in several states in the U.S., used for medical reasons by some patients, and was discovered to have no severe implications to the users, marijuana has not yet been removed from the Schedule I category.
Senator Sanders also launched an online appeal that calls for the federal government to put an end to the war on drugs which he claimed has failed.
“With Senator Sanders cosponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act alongside Senators Booker and Gillibrand, it’s time for the party to speak with one voice that they will legalize marijuana and expunge the criminal convictions of the millions who are being held back from achieving both employment and the American dream,” Strekal said.