The second highest ranking Democratic in the House said on Wednesday that the House should take up comprehensive marijuana legalization legislation after the passage of a bipartisan cannabis banking bill.
Hours before the House voted in favor of the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act by a significant margin, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) released a statement saying that while he is “proud” to have put the bill on the floor, “I believe it does not go far enough.”
“This must be a first step toward the decriminalization and de-scheduling of marijuana, which has led to the prosecution and incarceration of far too many of our fellow Americans for possession,” he said, adding that a number of legalization bills have been introduced that could be advanced.
Proud to bring the SAFE Banking Act to the Floor, but I believe it does not go far enough. This must be a first step toward the decriminalization & de-scheduling of marijuana. I look fwd to continuing to work w my colleagues to make progress on this issue. https://t.co/DykyjIholW
— Steny Hoyer (@LeaderHoyer) September 25, 2019
“I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to make progress on this issue and reform federal marijuana laws, including de-scheduling marijuana and providing relief to individuals and communities disproportionally affected by racial biases in the way federal marijuana laws have been enforced,” he said.
Hoyer is the latest leading House Democrat to call for broader reform following the passage of the SAFE Banking Act. Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) similarly released statements on Tuesday that passing banking legislation alone is insufficient.
Nadler said that he supports the SAFE Banking Act, but “I also strongly support additional marijuana reform—to deschedule marijuana federally and to provide critical assistance and relief to individuals and communities that have been disproportionally impacted by the racially biased war on drugs.”
— House Judiciary Dems (@HouseJudiciary) September 24, 2019
Waters said “I have long fought for criminal justice reform and deeply understand the need to fully address the historical racial and social inequities related to the criminalization of marijuana.”
— Financial Svcs Cmte (@FSCDems) September 25, 2019
“I support legislation that deschedules marijuana federally, requires courts to expunge convictions for marijuana-related offenses, and provides assistance such as job training and reentry services for those who have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs,” she said.
The comments come after several advocacy groups including the ACLU, Drug Policy Alliance and Human Rights Watch sent a letter to House leadership urging a delay on the banking vote until broader reform passed.
Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.