Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) introduced new legislation, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, which would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. His proposal would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Schedules; increase investments in research and for minority and women-owned marijuana businesses; and support state efforts to expunge or seal convictions for marijuana offenses. Ed Chung, vice president of Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement in response:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s legislation to decriminalize marijuana sends a strong signal that Congress is ready to seriously rethink our outdated substance use policies—and actually do something about it. For too long, national leaders have fixated only on criminal penalties as a solution to drug use while ignoring research and data that show the ineffectiveness of that approach. The bill introduced today appropriately calls for the replacement of the war on drugs with smarter and more just public health policies.
Importantly, Sen. Schumer’s legislation is cognizant of the racial disparities caused by the country’s failed marijuana enforcement policies and includes proposals to help rectify those harms. The legislation authorizes grants to states and localities to develop or expand sealing and expungement programs for criminal records related to marijuana offenses. It also calls for a redirection of funds from taxed marijuana that would allow for minority and women-owned marijuana businesses to have equal opportunities for economic benefits in the new industry.
To date, 30 states and the District of Columbia have loosened marijuana laws, and a recent poll from CAP and GBA Strategies shows that 68 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization. We commend Sen. Schumer and policymakers in Congress for listening to the public on this matter and making strides to revamp federal marijuana policy.
Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy by Ed Chung, Maritza Perez and Lea Hunter
Voters Across Party Lines Support Clean Slate Legislation by John Halpin and Karl Agne
Ending the War on Drugs by Betsy Pearl and Maritza Perez
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Sally Tucker at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.481.8103.