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Cory Booker reintroduces his bill to legalize cannabis

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Cory Booker reintroduces his bill to legalize cannabis

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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Presidential candidate and Senator Cory Booker has reintroduced his bill to legalize cannabis. The Marijuana Justice Act would legalize cannabis at the federal level and would expunge cannabis-related charges at the federal level for all citizens. The bill aims not just to legalize but to also help heal the wounds created by the prohibition of cannabis.

Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the National Cannabis Industry Association, told Cannabis News Box that the expungement part of the bill is an important difference when you compare it to other legalization bills that are currently being considered by Congress.

“The primary differences are the expungement of federal marijuana convictions and the clause that punishes states which continue to exhibit racial disparities in their marijuana arrests,” Fox said. “These are ambitious goals that are not present in the other bills but which are certainly moving the conversation in the right direction in terms of trying to alleviate some of the harms caused by prohibition and recognizing the historical injustice of prohibition policies.”

Fox said that regardless of which bill may pass, states will have work to do to fix the problems caused by the war on drugs. Many cannabis charges are at the state level, so a federal bill can’t do everything.

“All the comprehensive bills would allow states to determine their own policies without fear of federal interference, which will lead to more states deciding not to arrest adults for cannabis, and help stop the cycle of harm,” Fox said. “The Marijuana Justice Act definitely goes a lot farther, but given the amount of damage caused by prohibition over the decades, it is doubtful that any bill could provide reparative justice that truly makes up for it. However, we need to be thinking in those terms and do whatever we can as opportunities become available.”

Fox said it’s possible this bill could pass before the 2020 elections, but it’s too early to tell. The STATES Act, which would let states legalize and would make it so cannabis is no longer illegal at the federal level, also has quite a bit of support. That legislation was authored by presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“Trump’s statement of support for the STATES Act in July, the fact that he hasn’t directed the DOJ to crack down on legal businesses, and the assurance by the new Attorney General that he will not interfere with state cannabis programs or state-legal businesses are all positive indicators,” Fox said.

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Cory Booker reintroduces his bill to legalize cannabis