Chuck Schumer Introduces Bill to Federally Decriminalize Marijuana

Although it would not legalize marijuana, Sen. Chuck Schumer introduces bill to federally decriminalize marijuana by re-classifying it.
Chuck Schumer Introduces Bill to Federally Decriminalize Marijuana
Jeff McEvoy/ Wikimedia Commons

In the newest development on the cannabis legislation front, Chuck Schumer introduced a bill to federally decriminalize marijuana. Although his proposal would not make weed fully legal, it could be a significant step toward relaxing national prohibition laws.

Chuck Schumer’s New Bill

New York Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a new bill yesterday. The centerpiece of the bill is a proposal to remove cannabis from the DEA’s list of Schedule I controlled substances.

De-scheduling marijuana would effectively decriminalize weed by moving into a much less severe category. Cannabis would still technically be illegal, but moving it out of its current Schedule I classification would dramatically change the way federal prohibition laws would be enforced.

Interestingly, that’s not the only change Rep. Schumer’s bill would make. It would reportedly also introduce a handful of other changes. If the bill is passed into law it would:

  • Establish funds specifically for marijuana businesses owned by women and marijuana business owners of color.
  • Set aside $750 million for highway safety programs and other public health projects.
  • Allow the Treasury Department to regulate certain aspects of cannabis advertising and marketing.
  • Set up around $100 million in grants to help expunge criminal records of folks who have been convicted in the past for marijuana-related crimes.

As announced by Sen. Schumer, the bill is being co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, from Vermont, Sen. Tim Kaine, from Virginia, and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, from Illinois.

For those involved with the bill, it’s all about addressing problems with how weed laws are enforced. More specifically, some lawmakers see it as a way to confront racial disparities in drug policing.

“Far too many Americans are currently incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses,” said Sen. Duckworth. “And they are disproportionally people of color, despite the fact that African Americans and Caucasians use marijuana at the same rates.”

The Bigger Picture

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Bernie Sanders, has been a longtime supporter of legalization. In fact, his home state of Vermont legalized cannabis earlier this year. Now, the state’s new recreational laws are set to go into effect on July 1.

Recently, Vermont has taken additional legal steps. In particular, it is looking at the possibility of expunging prior marijuana convictions. All told, this could potentially clear around 3,000 people of misdemeanor charges.

While many states continue changing their own local laws, things are more complicated at the national level. For starters, the Trump administration has introduced a lot of confusion.

On the one hand, Trump himself has so far steered clear of directly interfering with state laws about weed. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a longtime opponent of cannabis.

Sessions has a long history of making off-the-wall comments about the dangers of marijuana. And he’s repeatedly hinted at initiating a federal crackdown on weed-legal states.

At the beginning of the year, he rescinded an Obama-era directive that restricted federal agents from interfering with state laws regarding marijuana.

All in all, it remains unclear where the current administration stands. Certainly, nothing has been to move any closer toward federal legalization.

Sen. Schumer’s bill isn’t the only proposal to call for changes to federal marijuana laws. Earlier this year, Rep. Barbara Lee introduced to the House a bill calling for the national legalization of marijuana.

Her bill was a companion piece to similar legislation proposed last fall in the Senate by Sen. Cory Booker. That bill, called the Marijuana Justice Act, called for sweeping changes to federal prohibition laws.

  1. The Republicans, who really could use a couple of buds, won’t let it happen. Vote, and don’t vote for those folks.

  2. We should talk about people in 33 states where Medical Marijuana (MM) is concerned. Ive wrote to my senator Mr. Bob Casey prior the November presidential election. To which he replied that there are a couple of pieces of legislation. One I just found is through Jerry Nadler, but it addresses Recreational marijuana. The bill wasn’t passed under then Mitch McConnell Republican lead house prior to Nov. 3rd election of Joe Biden, Well I’m a MM Patient of Pennsylvania for I’ve one of the 23 diseases that MM under Pa ACT16. I was diagnosed in 1998 after a severe exacerbation. I’m now SPMS. Plus I’ve back issues. I was paying $8 per month for Tramadol or $96 per year through the Veterans Administration versus $100 to $150 per month or $1,800, just so as my pain gets worse through the years so I don’t become addicted to opioids. When Gov Wolf enacted ACT 16 he stated it was to show companionate for those in daily pain. Well if a person has one or more of the 23 diseases chances are they don’t work 40 hours a week or overtime or 2 jobs. Heck I’ve nothing against recreational marijuana at all, it’s way past the archaic times of 1937 Harry J. Anslinger who made it schedule 1 and believe it should be treated like alcohol and states should tax it as sees fit, but Medical Marijuana should not they are two different levels. One is to relieve, subdue and ease pain physically and emotionally. The other for fun or pleasurer. There are 195K MM Patients in Pa and with renewals the state takes in $8 million annually in renewal patient fees and this is not the doctor office fee. If or when I say that nationally if a person is a medically certified uniformly in all states should be entitled to purchase a FEDERAL Medical Marijuana Card or make states create a card to let MM Patients grow their own with obviously limits. Like 3 or 4 adult plants , as many seedlings as necessary and allowed to have a few ounces on hand. Only to be taken at home or in a place of living occupancy . At this time states and PA is one and there are 5 more that want to make it or them Recreational. Doing so stymies those who use MM for pain management. Meaning a patient won’t purchase what’s really needed due to the exorbitant cost and not just to sit around just getting stoned. Stereo typing MMP is just degrading. Also if the government law makers would just for now let MMP grow their own while also keeping States MM Dispensaries in case an individual cant grow or have a grow go bad for any reason. Medical Marijuana treatment is way different than Recreational and should be treated as such. With patients gowning their own, the insurance companies couldn’t complain because money won’t changes hands or once de-scheduled as a class 1 drug of which State Workers Compensation or any insurance company that would question the validity of Medical Marijuana. The Workers Compensation carrier could just reimburse for the seed, fertilizer and electricity any along with any other cost in production of such consumables with a copy of receipts. As a Medical Marijuana Patient I would be happy giving $50 to the Federal or State Office per year and having a card to show any law official that the MM grower is a patient. This way insurance companies would be doing right thing. Also back in 2017 during an appropriation meetings in 2010 a veterans rep brought up Veterans being able to use MM and the VA would not hinder the vets treatment or prescriptions and services in states where MM was allowed. That’s great but the VA does not provide the PA 14 hour course to its providers. So how can my provider talk over my current medication from them and my MM ? I told my health care provider I did not want Tramadol anymore 3 years ago. He at the time didn’t know the VA in the 33 states at that time allowed Veterans use of Medical Marijuana. I brought a down loaded printed paper to show him that it was ok. I remember a time about 5 years prior when asking him about marijuana and he told me not to because they could test my hair for THC. Then another time I had to sign a paper that if I did any drug other than what was prescribed that I would loose my benefits. Once Marijuana is taken off the Class 1 schedule list list then as far as revenue created state by state will be through the roof. As an example. The palsy $8M Pennsylvania currently makes in renewals will be nothing to compared Recreational marijuana and should be looking at the other 13 states by at least 10 times as much within the first year out of the gate. The compassion should still exist to help people in legitimate pain. In Pa its 23 diseases and has to be certified by a Pa licensed Physician by charging $200 the first year then $100 the year after. the state $100 the first year and $50 the next. This DOESN’T ease the cost of product. Basic use to keep my pain under control is $150 per month. These are street prices. I’m not expanding or I’m limiting my experience with what will help or can’t just adjust. As I said previously any prescription thru the VA is $8.50 per prescription each month. If a Vet is 100% it would be zero. I would much rather pay $100 a year but knowing my pain gets worse each year I would be a user of opioids. Still I’m on a fixed income. No overtime, no second job. Everything I’m saying just makes sense. If members look the other way and put Recreational first or doesn’t separate the two then your letting the the compass of this go a wry and out of balance when it should be for the compassion of the sick and in pain citizens. Give us with pain relief. I’m not a pot head , a hippy, or anything like that and do not like being in this category but each time I pay this crazy price as if I’m on a street corner I say my Lord this is crazy, why can’t my government help me ? Here is your chance to get it right ! let me finish by saying I’m sitting in my chair that I do wish to say, Thank You Sincerely, Don .

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