Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, which is a bill that would de-schedule marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act's list of substances and would remove any sort of prohibition on the import and export of the drug. Additionally, the bill would penalize states that imprison minorities for marijuana-related crimes at a disproportional level by removing federal funding for prisons.
Booker has expressed concern about Attorney General Jeff Sessions' rhetoric on marijuana and his desire to crack down on states that have voted to legalize the drug. Booker said that he thinks that the federal government should "get out of the illegal marijuana business."
Under the legislation, federal convictions for marijuana use and possession would be expunged and prisoners serving time for a marijuana offense would be entitled to a sentencing hearing.
Those “aggrieved” by a disproportionate arrest or imprisonment rate would be able to sue, according to the bill. And a Community Reinvestment Fund would be established to “reinvest in communities most affected by the war on drugs” for everything from re-entry programs to public libraries.
“They’re actually seeing positive things coming out of that experience. Now I believe the federal government should get out of the illegal marijuana business,” Booker said, adding that it “disturbs” him that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has signaled that the federal government may take a harder line on marijuana. (Politico)
Sessions is being sued by medical marijuana patients who seek to remove marijuana from its current Schedule 1 classification under the Controlled Substances Act. This classification means that there is no accepted medical use of the substance, but more than half of the United States has legalized some form of medicinal marijuana. Eight states, plus the District of Columbia, have fully legalized marijuana for recreational use, and it seems likely that more will join this number in the not-so-distant future.
Granted, this bill has roughly zero percent chance of actually becoming law under the current Congress and president, but it's something. There needs to be a conversation about marijuana that doesn't descend into hyperbolic tropes. This could be an opportunity to have that conversation, but it's unlikely.