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Schumer Says ‘Great Experiments’ With Marijuana Legalization By States Have Given Americans ‘More Freedoms’



States have carried out “great experiments” with marijuana legalization that have given Americans “more freedoms,” including in conservative jurisdictions, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says.

As Schumer continues to push for cannabis banking legislation and a legalization bill he recently unveiled, the senator was asked on Wednesday whether there’s a policy disconnect between his advocacy for marijuana reform and his call for a crackdown on the nicotine product Zyn.

The majority leader didn’t directly address the question but said generally that “the bottom line is that there have been great experiments in the states on legalization of marijuana.”

“Crime hasn’t gone up. Drug addiction hasn’t gone up. People have more freedoms,” he said.

“I think overwhelmingly the American people support decriminalization,” Schumer said. “Even in conservative states, it’s on the ballot—look at Ohio—and it wins overwhelmingly.”

With respect to the Zyn-specific question, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) criticized Schumer in January over what he views as a double-standard with the proposed crackdown.

After the majority leader asked federal agencies to investigate the health impacts and marketing of the nicotine pouches that have been popularized on social media in a way that he says appeals to youth, Fetterman said he opposes Schumer’s position because it’s a matter of “freedom and personal choices,” drawing parallels to his reasons for supporting marijuana legalization.

“When I am going to have a decision, I’m going to err on the side of more freedom and personal choices and those kinds of things,” Fetterman said. “And I made that same argument when I wanted to legalize marijuana.”

Schumer didn’t weigh in on the Zyn aspect of the reporter’s question on Wednesday, but he has repeatedly discussed his interest in advancing cannabis policy reform with the remainder of the session.

Last week, for example, the senator signaled he’s not giving up hope on attaching a marijuana banking bill to must-pass aviation legislation. But Republican leaders in both chambers represent roadblocks for the reform.

Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and a coalition of other Democratic senators also officially reintroduced a bill to federally legalize marijuana last week.

That came one day after the Justice Department announced that it is moving to reschedule cannabis in a historic policy shift.

Schumer also said last week that while the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) decision to propose marijuana rescheduling is a “historic step forward,” he remains “strongly committed” to advancing the cannabis banking and legalization legislation this session.

Meanwhile, the White House on Wednesday declined to say whether President Joe Biden personally supports the DOJ cannabis reclassification plan following the review that he directed.

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