Senate Democrats Take A Step Toward Legalizing Marijuana

By Cherranda Smith

July 14, 2021

Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

Three top Senate Democrats are expected on Wednesday (July 14) to unveil a draft of a plan to legalize marijuana on the federal level. 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Cory Booker, and Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden are releasing an early version of their plan which not only legalizes marijuana but taxes it and reinvest the revenue “in the communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs,” according to documents obtained by NBC News

Under their plan, people with nonviolent federal convictions involving marijuana would have their criminal records expunged. Marijuana regulations would also fall under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives instead of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

The goal of the legislation proposal is to “end the decades of harm inflicted on communities of color by removing cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances.” The proposal also seeks to “[empower] states to implement their own cannabis laws.” 

“There is an urgency to this because there are people all over the country seeing their lives destroyed. They’re hurt,” Booker said on The Today Show Wednesday (July 14), The Hill reported.  

Eighteen states in the US legalized recreational marijuana so far, while 37 states have legalized medical marijuana.

Support for legalizing marijuana has grown in recent years, as the nation reflects on the magnitude of the War on Drugs and its impact on Black and Latino communities.

Taxing cannabis has created funding opportunities for community programs and initiatives in several cities and states. In Evanston, Illinois, the city council used tax revenue on marijuana sales to fund its first-of-its-kind reparations program for Black residents. 

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