Schumer Says Senate Will Make Marijuana Legalization a Priority

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that the Senate will make the legalization of marijuana a legislative priority.  Marijuana is currently a Schedule I banned drug and more than 40,000 Americans have been imprisoned due to cannabis-related offenses. Legalization would mark a significant step to reform elsewhere.

“I am the first majority leader to say it’s time to end the federal prohibition on marijuana and as majority leader, I’m going to push this issue forward and make it a priority for the Senate,” he said in remarks earlier this morning, saying legalization would bring about a “monumental change” nationwide.

At long last it would take steps to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs,” he said, adding that the legislation would remove marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances and expunge the criminal records of those convicted of low-level cannabis offenses.

Schumer’s announcement comes a day after he said he is backing Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and will release a draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.

“It’s not just an idea whose time has come; it’s long overdue,” Schumer said at a news conference in the Capitol yesterday. “We have all seen the agony of a young person arrested with a small amount of marijuana in his or her pocket. And because of the historical over-criminalization of marijuana, they have a very severe criminal record they have to live with their whole lives.”