Booker Debuts ‘Marijuana Justice Act’ to Legalize Cannabis
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation earlier today that would end federal cannabis prohibition and begin to repair some of the lasting damage done by the war on drugs.
“I believe the federal government should get out of the illegal marijuana business,” Booker said. “You see what’s happening around this country right now. Eight states and the District of Columbia have moved to legalize marijuana. And these states are seeing decreases in violent crime in their states. They’re seeing increases in revenue to their states. They’re seeing their police forces being able to focus on serious crime. They’re seeing positive things come out of that experience.”
Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act would:
- Remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, ending federal prohibition of marijuana
- Cut federal funding for state law enforcement and prison construction if a state disproportionately arrests and/or incarcerates low-income individuals and/or people of color for marijuana offenses
- Allow entities to sue states that disproportionately arrest and/or incarcerate low-income individuals and/or people of color for marijuana offenses
- Prevent deportations of individuals for marijuana offenses
- Provide for a process of expungement for marijuana offenses at the federal level
- Provide for a process of resentencing for marijuana offenses at the federal level
- Create a “Community Reinvestment Fund” of $500 million to invest in communities most impacted by the war on drugs, for programs such as job training, reentry, community centers, and more. Part of the funding will come from the aforementioned cuts to state law enforcement and prison construction.
Not Just Legalization; Reparations Too
Booker’s proposal is especially strong on the social justice angle. “I have seen young teenagers getting arrested, saddled with criminal convictions for the rest of their lives,” Booker said during a Facebook Live event that followed the introduction of the bill. When a person is convicted of a felony marijuana charge, “they have to deal with about 40,000 collateral consequences. They can’t get business licenses, Pell Grants, public housing, food stamps.” Booker added that in some states, a person with a single marijuana conviction is barred from receiving a taxi license.