Several potential rival presidential candidates are teaming up on legislation to end the federal war on marijuana. On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is signing on as a co-sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act, introduced last year by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).
Many political observers expect that Booker and Sanders will compete for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), another rumored contender, is also a co-sponsor of the bill.
Although the three senators may be just months away from the start of a hard-fought political nominating contest, they are linking arms in support of the most far-reaching cannabis reform bill ever to have been filed in Congress.
“Leaders in the Democratic Party are increasingly recognizing that leading the charge on legalization is not only good policy, but good politics,” Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, said in an interview. “The constituencies which the party claims to stand for are the ones who have most felt the weight of prohibition and the lifelong consequences of prohibition.”
Separately on Thursday, Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York announced that he intends to file additional far-reaching marijuana law reform legislation.
The Marijuana Justice Act, if passed, would not only remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act so that states could legalize without federal interference, but would also withhold funding from states that maintain criminalization and continue to have racially disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates for cannabis.
We are spending $80 billion locking people up. Think about what it would mean if we invested that money in our people instead of more jails. https://t.co/Rd8DgfudcC
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) April 19, 2018
The legislation would also direct federal courts to expunge prior marijuana convictions and would allow people punished under disproportionately enforced cannabis laws to file civil lawsuits against those states.
Booker and Sanders did a Facebook Live chat to discuss the legislation on Thursday.
Honored @SenSanders joined my bill, the Marijuana Justice Act, to end the federal prohibition on marijuana.
It's time we reverse decades of failed drug policy that has disproportionately impacted low-income individuals and people of color.
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBooker) April 19, 2018
This article was published on forbes.com