Sen. Cory Booker says legalization is inevitable


Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a bill called the Marijuana Justice Act in 2017 that would end the federal prohibition of cannabis, and he thinks we’re well on our way to legalizing.

“It will happen,” Booker said in a recent interview. “It’s not a matter of if, but when.”

Booker is seen as a likely candidate for president in 2020, and another likely candidate, Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), has become a co-sponsor of Booker’s bill. That’s a lot of weight behind a legalization bill, and Booker says there are many other senators who are interested in joining on.

“More and more senators are coming to me and want to sign on,” Booker said. “There’s more energy and growing energy.”

Queen Adesuyi, a policy associate for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Cannabis News Box the bill has momentum.

“I definitely see some momentum slowly building up in the Senate, and it’s definitely looking good in the House,” she said. A version of the bill was recently introduced to the House, and it already has over 20 cosponsors.

“Sen. Booker has done a great job with sending the message across the nation—talking about the connections between marijuana reform and racial justice,” Adesuyi said. Booker’s bill lays out how prohibition of cannabis has disproportionately hurt minority communities, despite the fact cannabis use is basically the same among white and black people, and the bill would enact policies that could help heal those wounds in minority communities.

“We’re at a point where 60 percent of Americans favor marijuana legalization, and states are continually adding themselves to the list of states that are allowing recreational or medical marijuana, so I think [Booker] is right to say we’re at the brink of marijuana legalization on the federal level,” Adesuyi said.

Adesuyi sees that the cannabis industry is booming, and she thinks it wouldn’t be “fair” for us to create this industry without addressing the damage prohibition has done. “We cannot legalize marijuana without considering or acknowledging the decades of harm [prohibition] has had on communities of color, low-income communities and veterans,” she said.

Booker said in his recent interview that he even sees support building among Republicans who believe this should be a state issue, instead of a federal one, and who see the benefits that come with legalization. The Trump administration has not so far been a friend to the cannabis community, but we’ll have to see what happens if Congress decides it’s finally time to legalize.