Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked senators to help them complete the marijuana legalization bill expected to be filed in April. To that end, the top Senate Democrats sent letters to their colleagues encouraging them to get into the drafting process and help finalize this legislation.
"In order to appropriately address such a nuanced issue, we respectfully request the input, advice, and guidance of Chairs and Ranking Members of relevant committees as well as senators who have dealt with the challenges and realities of legalization in their own states," the three senators wrote. "We would deeply appreciate your willingness to share your expertise on the intersections between your committees’ jurisdictions, your states’ experiences, and comprehensive cannabis reform and invite you to join the process of perfecting this legislation. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with you in the weeks ahead.”
Bill Filing Set For April
The letter comes nearly a week after Schumer told a press conference in New York City, that in April he plans to officially file the long-awaited bill to federally legalize cannabis.
At the same NYC press conference, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), talked about the advancements on his separate legalization measure. The event also included House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), New York lawmakers, advocates with the Drug Policy Alliance and other organizations.
“In the coming weeks, we’re ramping up our outreach—and we expect to introduce final legislation. Our goal is to do it in April,” Schumer said. “Then we begin the nationwide push, spearheaded by New York, to get the federal law done. As majority leader, I can set priorities. This is a priority for me.”
It’s been around six months since Schumer unveiled details of the bill.
“Right now, we’re taking those comments [on the draft version] and reaching out to Democratic and Republican senators,” said Schumer, adding that “we have some Republican support.”
It was not clear if Schumer was referring to having GOP cosponsors of the legislation or general support from voters.
“If any senators have other ideas that they want to add to the bill, as long as it keeps social and economic justice as the spearhead, we’re happy and willing to listen,” he said.
Record Legalization Support
The number of Americans who think marijuana should be legally obtainable hit a record high in 2021 for the second year in a row, according to a November Gallup poll, which showed that as many as 68% of American adults support cannabis legalization. The figure is the same as in 2020, which is the highest percentage of support ever revealed in a national Gallup poll.
"Hundreds of millions of Americans live in states that have legalized cannabis in some form while it remains illegal at the federal level," the three senators highlighted on Thursday. "This discrepancy leads to confusion and uncertainty and raises significant questions around criminal justice reform, economic development and small business growth, and public health and safety, all of which we believe require some type of federal answer."
Photo: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
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