Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said on Thursday that the contrast between states deeming marijuana businesses “essential” during the coronavirus outbreak while federal law maintains strict prohibition highlights the need for comprehensive cannabis reform.
The senator responded to a question submitted on Facebook, with a user asking why Congress has failed to act on legalization legislation at a time when states are largely regarding the industry as necessary and allowing marijuana companies to operate during the pandemic.
“I cannot tell you much I agree with you, Tom,” Booker said. “There are people throughout this country right now who have PTSD from their military service, children falling into seizures with things like Dravet Syndrome, not able to access this drug—this lifesaving drug for some people. Enough is enough.”
Tom on Facebook wants to know how in some cases marijuana businesses are essential, while federal law is still woefully outdated. pic.twitter.com/aMTu0aZMnG
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBooker) April 30, 2020
“We need to end this federal prohibition,” he said, adding that he’s the sponsor of the Marijuana Justice Act, which would federally deschedule cannabis while promoting social equity through provisions such as expungements for prior marijuana convictions.
“It’s something I’m going to fight for. This hypocrisy—these drug laws that we have that are archaic and cruel—they must end,” he said. “I’m going to fight to make sure right now that this ugliness is over in our country and we do the right thing on the federal level. And our momentum is building by the way.”
Earlier this month, Booker was asked about reported shortages of medical cannabis in his home state of New Jersey. While he said that cannabis reform is not front-and-center of his agenda during the current health crisis, he clarified that was the case “except for to the extent that it is something that people need for their health and wellbeing like all prescription drugs.”
“Again, we have a lot to do in New Jersey to visit upon this issue, but for people that need it for their post-traumatic stress, for the seizures that they may have, for serious medical conditions, I’m hoping we prioritize those people so they can get the medicine they need,” he said at the time.
Several other senators—as well as dozens of House members—have also turned their attention to marijuana businesses during the pandemic, writing letters to leadership asking that access to federal coronavirus relief be extended to cannabis companies, which are currently ineligible for Small Business Administration (SBA) loan and lending programs.
Booker, who ran on a pro-legalization agenda in the 2020 Democratic presidential race until dropping out in January, didn’t sign his chamber’s letter to that end, but he did sign a separate letter led by Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) that implored Appropriations Committee leadership to allow marijuana businesses to access SBA services as part of upcoming annual spending legislation.
Photo courtesy of Senate Democrats.