Washington D.C. — Yesterday, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced support for decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level. To date, 30 states and the District of Columbia have already enacted laws that loosen marijuana restrictions, and more than 60 percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana. By removing marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances, federal drug policy will catch up with states that have been leading the charge in legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical purposes. Sen. Schumer also committed to introducing legislation in the near future which will include investments dedicated to funding women- and minority-owned marijuana businesses. Neera Tanden, president and CEO at the Center for American Progress, released the following statement in response:
Sen. Schumer’s announcement to modernize federal marijuana laws marks a shift among lawmakers from across the ideological spectrum who now recognize the need to prioritize public health approaches over criminal justice solutions. Current federal marijuana laws are a reminder that the United States still is waging the failed war on drugs. These outdated drug policies, which have been in place since the 1970s, have negatively impacted people of color, and especially African Americans.
The Center for American Progress supports Sen. Schumer’s important step toward legalizing marijuana. An integral part of any forthcoming legislation must include provisions to rectify destructive policies that have left far too many Americans with a criminal record. These and other much-needed policy changes will help transform our criminal justice system and make it more fair and effective.
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