Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer voiced his support for marijuana decriminalization Thursday night, a day ahead the nationwide stoner celebration: 4/20.
Schumer, D-N.Y., plans to introduce a bill aimed at decriminalizing the drug at the federal level, he told VICE News Tonight on HBO.
“Ultimately, it’s the right thing to do. Freedom. If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?” Schumer said.
In this April 12, 2018, photo, a marijuana plant awaits transplanting at the Hollingsworth Cannabis Company near Shelton, Wash. America’s marijuana supporters have a lot to celebrate on this 420 holiday: Thirty states have legalized some form of medical marijuana, according to a national advocacy group. Nine of those states and Washington, D.C., also have broad legalization where adults 21 and older can use pot for any reason. Michigan could become the 10th state with its ballot initiative this year. Yet cannabis remains illegal under federal law, and it still has many opponents. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Schumer hopes to de-schedule the drug from the federal level. (AP)
Schumer has backed the use of medical marijuana in the past, and said in the interview that “too many people” have been affected by the government’s war on the plant.
The bill would essentially make marijuana legal at the federal level and leave it to the states to determine how to police the drug, Schumer told VICE News Tonight on HBO. He said the bill would remove marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of Schedule I controlled substances.
Other points of the bill include giving the U.S. the authority to regulate marijuana advertising the same way as alcohol and tobacco and set aside funding for minority- and women-owned marijuana businesses, according to Vice News.
Schumer hopes to release the measure sometime next week.
The National Cannabis Industry, a nonprofit group that promotes the growth of the cannabis injury, hailed Schumer’s plan to de-schedule the drug.
“We agree with Senator Schumer that this legislation is long overdue and commend his leadership as the Senate’s top Democrat to finally modernize our nation’s marijuana policies,” said Aaron Smith, the group’s executive director. “Removing cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act will allow states to continue to successfully regulate cannabis, undermine criminal markets, create new economic opportunities, and will pave the way to much-needed research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis.”