Senate Democrats Renew Push to Federally Legalize Marijuana

Senate Democrats are resurrecting their efforts to federally legalize marijuana following the Biden administration’s indication that it intends to reclassify the drug as a less dangerous substance.

Those in favor of legalizing marijuana, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, believe that Congress has an opportunity to build upon the administration’s decision. Schumer emphasized the importance of reclassifying cannabis, stating that it’s a long overdue step and that Congress needs to pass cannabis reform to align with the wishes of most Americans.

Schumer, along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Sen. Cory Booker, reintroduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. The proposed legislation goes beyond the administration’s actions by not only ending the federal prohibition on cannabis but also removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to establish their own cannabis laws, and implementing automatic expungement of related nonviolent crimes.

The Drug Enforcement Administration recently proposed rescheduling marijuana as a Schedule III drug instead of a Schedule I drug. The reintroduction of the bill coincidentally followed the DEA’s announcement and was not preplanned, according to a senior Democratic aide.

Members of the Democratic party, such as Sen. Cory Booker, expressed concerns about the impact of criminal records related to marijuana use, particularly for young people, African Americans, and Latinos. Booker questioned the implications for individuals who have faced criminal repercussions for actions that others, including political figures, have also engaged in without consequences.

Despite the Democrats’ efforts, they currently face challenges in garnering support from Republicans and some fellow Democrats. The GOP has consistently opposed the federal legalization of marijuana. Sen. Ron Wyden pointed out that descheduling cannabis and allowing states to set their own laws should align with Republican ideals.

The push for federal marijuana legalization continues to be a contentious issue with differing viewpoints from both sides of the political spectrum.

Written by Staff Reports

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