The Senate’s fourth-most-senior Democrat is signing onto the most far-reaching piece of marijuana legislation ever introduced on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced on Monday that he will cosponsor the Marijuana Justice Act, a bill introduced in August by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).
Watch a Facebook video of Sens. Ron Wyden and Cory Booker discussing the bill:
The bill would not only remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act so that states could legalize without federal interference, but would also withhold funding from states that maintain prohibition and continue racially disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates for cannabis.
Additionally, it would require federal courts to expunge people’s prior marijuana convictions and would let people punished under disproportionately enforced cannabis laws to file civil lawsuits against those states.
Money withheld from states with discriminatory marijuana policies would be used to fund job training and libraries.
“We’ve got to get out of the war on drugs, which is really a war on people,” Booker said during a Facebook video on Monday night.
Sitting next to Booker, Wyden described current marijuana policy as “socially unjust, economically backward and against the will of the American people.”
He added: “We know that people of color around this country are siting in jail now for marijuana offenses that millions of Americans did the same thing and are not faced with the same consequences.”
Booker noted the failure of alcohol prohibition and rhetorically asked, “Why can’t we learn from American history?”
Referring to the fact that a current federal rider that protects state medical cannabis laws from federal interference is in jeopardy, Wyden said he and other allies on Capitol Hill are “gonna pull out all the stops…to make sure that we write it in to black letter law permanently.”
I’m excited to sign on as the first co-sponsor of @SenBooker's Marijuana Justice Act. Join us at 6:30p.m. EST tonight on Facebook Live. We’ll be answering your questions about the bill. https://t.co/wah0kgd95W
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) December 18, 2017
A related press release touted separate Wyden-led legislation to align federal and state laws:
“As the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, Wyden is working to ensure consumers are protected and state-legal marijuana businesses are treated fairly. In March, Wyden introduced the Path to Marijuana Reform, a package of three bills, including the bipartisan Small Business Tax Equity Act that prevents legal marijuana businesses from getting hit with an unfair tax bill. The package also includes measures to shrink the gap between federal and state marijuana policies and responsibly deschedule, tax, and regulation marijuana.”
Excited to have @RonWyden sign on as the first co-sponsor to my bill, the Marijuana Justice Act, which aims to end the federal prohibition of marijuana.
Join us tonight @ 6:30pm ET as we discuss the bill and answer your questions live on my Facebook Page: https://t.co/HofzJv92x7
— Sen. Cory Booker (@SenBooker) December 18, 2017
Photo courtesy of JD Lasica.