The United States Senate has finally decided to take on the disastrous war on drugs. On Wednesday, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) along with Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced draft legislation that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act of 1971.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would remove the plant from the CSA and levy federal taxes on the sale of recreational weed.
“The communities that have been most harmed by cannabis prohibition are benefitting the 4 least from the legal marijuana marketplace. A legacy of racial and ethnic injustices, compounded by the disproportionate collateral consequences of 80 years of cannabis prohibition enforcement, now limits participation in the industry. 37 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have adopted laws allowing legal access to cannabis, and 18 States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam have adopted laws legalizing cannabis for adult recreational use,” the bill states.
It also contains provisions for boosting the blossoming commercial marijuana industry – which is worth tens of billions of dollars per year and growing – as well as acknowledgments pertaining to the failures of the war on drugs.
“A total of 49 states have reformed their laws pertaining to cannabis despite the Schedule I status of marijuana and its Federal criminalization. Legal cannabis businesses support more than 321,000 jobs throughout the United States. Legal cannabis sales totaled 6 $20,000,000,000 in 2020 and are projected to reach $40,500,000,000 by 2025,” the act says. “According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), enforcing cannabis prohibition laws costs taxpayers approximately $3,600,000,000 a year. The continued enforcement of cannabis prohibition laws results in over 600,000 arrests annually, disproportionately impacting people of color who are almost 4 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than their White counterparts, despite equal rates of use across populations. People of color have been historically targeted by discriminatory sentencing practices resulting in Black men receiving drug sentences that are 13.1 percent longer than sentences imposed for White men and Latinos being nearly 6.5 times more likely to receive a Federal sentence for cannabis possession than non-Hispanic Whites.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.