Senators Rally Behind (U.S.) Cannabis Legalization
April 23rd, 2018
President Trump’s unexpected support for state-level cannabis legalization has spurred Democrats to rally behind new legislation for federal legalization over the past weeks.
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Marijuana Justice Act last year to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, incentivize states to mitigate racial disparities in marijuana arrests, and expunge federal convictions specific to marijuana possession. Last week, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who rose to fame during the last presidential election as a Democratic contender to Hillary Clinton, signed on as a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“Here is the simple truth: Blacks and whites have similar rates of marijuana use, but black people are far more likely to be arrested for it. Last year, about 600,000 people were arrested for possession of marijuana. Many of those people, disproportionately people of color, have seen their lives destroyed because they have criminal records as a result of marijuana use. That has got to change,” Sen. Sanders said in a statement. “As I talked about during my campaign, we must end the absurd situation of marijuana being listed as a Schedule 1 drug alongside heroin. It is time to decriminalize marijuana, as many states have already done, and end the failed war on drugs. We must invest in jobs and education, not more jails and incarceration.”
At the same time, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced plans to introduce legislation on April 20 (4/20) to decriminalize marijuana on a federal level. Sen. Schumer is the latest high-profile politician to weigh in on the debate and his bill would reportedly remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, establish funding for women- and minority-owned marijuana businesses, require more public health research, and maintain federal authority to regulate commercial advertising – much like the tobacco industry.
“The time has come to decriminalize marijuana,” said Leader Schumer in a statement. “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. ”
These developments have had a positive impact on many cannabis companies. The Marijuana Index, which tracks 42 publicly-traded companies in the cannabis space, rose more than 22 percent, from about $220 in early April to nearly $270, following President Trump’s revelations and the growing support amid Democrats. The removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act could significantly de-risk the sector and open it up for wider investment.
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