Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today announced his support -- for the first time -- for decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level, as well as plans to introduce new legislation in the United States Senate to do so. Specifically, Leader Schumer's legislation would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act, effectively decriminalizing it at the federal level. The legislation would allow the states to continue to function as laboratories of democracy and ultimately decide how they will treat marijuana possession. The legislation, however, would not change federal authorities' ability to prevent trafficking from states to where marijuana is legal to states where is not, nor would it curtail in any way the federal government's ability to regulate marijuana advertising - just as it does tobacco and alcohol - so that advertisers cannot target children. Schumer has long advocated for states' rights when it comes to medical marijuana.
Leader Schumer's new legislation would also take small steps to help communities of color that have been disproportionally hit by the war on drugs, as well as make new investments in research to fully understand the effect of THC on both driving and public health -- particularly in adolescents.
"The time has come to decriminalize marijuana," said Leader Schumer. "My thinking -- as well as the general population's views -- on the issue has evolved, and so I believe there's no better time than the present to get this done. It's simply the right thing to do. This legislation would let the states be the laboratories that they should be, ensure that woman and minority owned business have a fair shot in the marijuana industry, invests in critical research on THC, and ensures that advertisers can't target children -- it's a balanced approach. "
Specifically, Leader Schumer's new legislation would:
Decriminalize Marijuana: The legislation would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level by descheduling it, which means removing marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970;
Respect States' Rights: The legislation would maintain federal law enforcement's authority to prevent marijuana trafficking from states that have legalized marijuana to those that have not;
Level The Economic Playing Field: The legislation would establish dedicated funding streams for women and minority-owned marijuana businesses;
Ensure Public Safety: The legislation would wake targeted investments in highway safety research to ensure federal agencies have the resources they need to assess the pitfalls driving under the influence of THC and develop technology to reliably measure impairment;
Invest In Public Health: The legislation would invest in public health research to better understand the effects of THC on the brain and the efficacy of medicinal marijuana for specific ailments; and
Protect Children: The legislation would maintain federal authority to regulate marijuana advertising in the same way it does alcohol and tobacco advertising to ensure that marijuana businesses aren't allowed to target children in their advertisements.