Stoners could end up comprising Cory Booker’s most enthusiastic supporters should the New Jersey senator decide to run for president in 2020, as many pundits are expecting. That’s because he announced today his intention to push a bill that would end the criminalization of marijuana at the federal level. Should the bill gain enough momentum and public support to make its way to the floors of the House and Senate—and we can’t imagine it’d be killed without a highly publicized fight—the United States could soon join Mexico, Canada and Uruguay as nations that have legalized the plant nationwide.
Today at 12:30pm ET I’m introducing the Marijuana Justice Act to legalize marijuana at federal level. Watch live: https://t.co/nrkyXyV9cv— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) August 1, 2017
Dubbed the “Marijuana Justice Act,” Booker’s legislation seeks to counteract marijuana-based injustice on a few fronts. For one, it removes the drug from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of Schedule 1 narcotics, or drugs that are considered “highly addictive” and have no medical benefit under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. As backward as it sounds, marijuana is still deemed to be as dangerous as heroin and LSD by the federal government. The bill also threatens to penalize states that disproportionately imprison minority and impoverished community members for minor marijuana offenses. Those consequences might include limiting federal aid for constructing new jails and prisons if their quotients of imprisonment are thought to be unfair.
Booker capitalized on his strong social media following to spread his announcement, including sharing a Facebook Live video that detailed his reasons for writing the bill. “You see these marijuana arrests happening so much in our country, targeting certain communities—poor communities, minority communities—targeting people with an illness…They’re actually seeing positive things coming out of that experience,” Booker said. “Now I believe the federal government should get out of the illegal marijuana business.” You can watch the video in it’s entirety here.
Booker immediately won praise from marijuana advocates for calling attention to how historically significant the attempt to reschedule marijuana has been, let alone the attempt to address how marijuana criminalization harms margianalized communities—an issue largely ignored by the Obama administration.
Marijuana sales have proved to be an explosive boon to the economies of the states that have legalized them, raking in millions upon millions of tax dollars that go toward crucial spending on schools and infrastructure. But many are still hesitant about marijuana, including those who express doubts about its medical benefit all the way up to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who says marijuana causes reefer madness.
But with U.S. veterans beginning to pressure the government to allow the Department of Veterans to prescribe medicial marijuana in lieu of painkillers, the demand for sensible marijuana policy is higher than ever. No matter the odds of Booker’s bill actually passing a GOP-controlled Congress, its creation should be celebrated and at least guarantees Booker some major notoriety nationwide—coincidentally, just in time for a 2020 presidential bid.