An employee holds a jar of marijuana on sale after it became legal in the state to sell recreational marijuana to customers over 21 years old in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Illinois begins the legal sale of marijuana on Jan 1, 2020.
Matthew Hatcher | Reuters
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and two other Democratic senators said Monday that they will push to pass this year sweeping legislation that would end the federal prohibition on marijuana, which has been legalized to some degree by many states.
That reform also would provide so-called restorative justice for people who have been convicted of pot-related crimes, the senators said in a joint statement.
“The War on Drugs has been a war on people — particularly people of color,” said a statement issued by Schumer, of New York, and Sens. Cory Booker, of New Jersey, and Ron Wyden, of Oregon.
“Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country,” they said.
“But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs.”
The senators said they will release “a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform” early this year and that passing the legislation will be a priority for the Senate.
The trio also said that in addition to ending the federal pot ban and ensuring restorative justice, the legislation would “protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations.”
Schumer co-sponsored marijuana decriminalization legislation several years ago.
The statement comes as public support for legal marijuana has grown. A Gallup poll in November showed that 68% of Americans, a record high, favored marijuana legalization.
Every initiative that involved the decriminalization or legalization of marijuana on the ballot in 2020 passed.
Voters in New Jersey and Arizona chose to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. Mississippi voted to legalize medical marijuana use, and South Dakota legalized the drug for both recreational and medical use.
So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use, and 36 states permit medical use of the drug.
Oregon is the first to have decriminalized hard drugs.