Chuck Schumer Makes The Case For Legal Weed

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference following weekly policy luncheons on Capitol Hill

The Top Democrat In The Senate Now Supports Decriminalizing Marijuana

Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, announced his support Friday for decriminalizing marijuana, and said he'll introduce a bill to strip the drug from being listed as a federally controlled substance.

Recreational marijuana is now legal in nine states and the District of Columbia, while 29 states have laws allowing the drug for medicinal use.

Schumer unveiled his new position on HBO's "Vice News Tonight" where he was asked whether he had smoked pot before.

Schumer says his bill will be a step in the right direction aimed at removing the barrier to state legalization efforts. In January, the Pew Research Center found 61 percent of Americans supportive of legalization, with support reaching 70 percent among millennials.

In New York, Schumer's home state, the actress Cynthia Nixon is running an insurgent primary campaign against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the incumbent, based in part on her support for legalizing marijuana.

NORML has given Schumer a B grade regarding his support for marijuana legislation (he co-sponsored the CARERS Act). By 2015, he had signed on to co-sponsor a bill to let states create their own medical cannabis laws without federal interference.

Matt House, Schumer's communications director, said in a tweet that the Senator will unveil the bill on Friday - 4/20, a day that has become a celebration of marijuana.

David Howard King recently surveyed the political landscape here in NY for legalization and concluded that the state is headed in that direction. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions has begun to crack down on the marijuana industry this year, angering lawmakers and cannabis growers in states where it is legal. There are two paths here: One is decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level and there's another path already being pursued in a bipartisan way by people like Sen. This is in order to ensure companies are not directing ads toward juveniles.

That's a slight improvement from the previous Congress when legislation from Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, calling for marijuana to be treated like alcohol, gained 19-co-sponsors in the House.

It's clear that African Americans and Latinos have been disproportionately impacted; approximately 80% of people in federal prison and 60% in state prison for drug offenses are black or Latino.

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