Wyden cosponsors bill to end federal prohibition of marijuana

Senator Ron Wyden in studio, November 11, 2017. (SBG)

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, became the first U.S. senator to co-sponsor a new bill that aims to end the federal prohibition of marijuana on Monday.

The bill known as The Marijuana Justice Act was first introduced by Senator Cory Booker, D-New Jersey. The bill would remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances and make it legal on a federal level.

“Jeff Sessions and the Trump administration are still trying to fight a 1980's drug war that is socially unjust, economically backward and against the will of the American people,” Wyden said. “I’m proud to join forces with Senator Booker to fight this administration’s attempts to shift our country into reverse when it comes to federal marijuana policy. It’s more important now than ever to update outdated policies, right the wrongs against communities of color, and continue our work to lift up the voices of the many Americans who are speaking out in favor of legalization.”

“I’m thrilled that my colleague, Senator Wyden, has joined me on this groundbreaking bill,” Senator Booker said. “It’s long past due that we reform our nation’s deeply broken drug laws, which disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color. This is more than a marijuana reform bill – it's about ensuring equal justice for all, and we won’t stop fighting until we fix our broken criminal justice system.”

The bill would not only make marijuana legal on the federal level but also give incentives to states that change their marijuana laws if it has a disproportionate effect on low-income persons or/and of color with federal funds.

The bill would also retroactively apply to individuals who are serving time in jail for marijuana related offenses.

The Marijuana Justice Act will:

  • Make marijuana legal at the federal level
  • Give incentives to states who change their marijuana laws (if its illegal in the state) if it disproportionately arrests or arrests low-income people or of color for marijuana offenses
  • Remove federal marijuana and possession crimes
  • Allow persons serving time for marijuana related offenses in federal prison to petition for resentencing
  • Create a community reinvestment fund that will reinvest in communities impacted by the War on Drugs that will create programs for job training, reentry services, public libraries, community centers, opportunities for youth, health education and expenses related to erasing convictions.

Back in March Wyden had introduced the Path to Marijuana Reform that included the Small Business Tax Equity Act that prevents legal marijuana businesses from being hit with an unfair tax bill. The bill also includes a shrinks marijuana policies between federal and state levels, de schedules tax and regulation.

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