Democratic Sen. Cory Booker proposed what many are hailing as one of the most far-reaching marijuana legalization bills on Tuesday.
While the New Jersey Democrat’s bill would not legalize pot outright on the federal level, it allows the federal government to withhold funding from states whose bans on weed disproportionately affect minorities with arrest and incarceration rates, according to a Tuesday Facebook Live announcement.
“This is the single most far-reaching marijuana bill that’s ever been filed in either chamber of Congress,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “More than just getting the federal government out of the way so that states can legalize without DEA harassment, this new proposal goes even further by actually punishing states that have bad marijuana laws.”
In addition to federal punishing capability, the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017 also removes marijuana from Schedule I, a list of illegal drugs including heroin, and creates a “Community Reinvestment Fund” to be used to support re-entry programs and other prison alternatives, Buzzfeed reported. (RELATED: State Prison Uses Faith, Job Training To Gut Recidivism Rates)
“We live in a country where we swear this idea, we put our hand over out heart and we believe very strongly that we are to be a nation of liberty and justice for all,” Booker said in the announcement. “One way we have not fulfilled that ideal is through our criminal justice system.”
Booker claims that “the so-called war on drugs” is the root of a 500 percent national spike in incarceration since the 1990s. He, along with many others in the justice reform movement, argues that treatment programs and re-entry courts are more effective and less costly ways to combat America’s drug crisis.
Booker’s legislation comes just days after Senate Republicans and Democrats struck down a bill that would have granted Attorney General Jeff Sessions the authority to punish states for legalizing marijuana.
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