Last year, journalist Tom Angell called New Jersey Senator Cory Booker's Marijuana Justice Act "the single most far-reaching marijuana bill that’s ever been filed in either chamber of Congress". Now the bill has gained even more momentum: It was announced yesterday that New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will cosponsor the bill.
If this is your first time hearing about the bill, these are the major points you should know:
First and foremost, the bill would deschedule marijuana. But it goes even further than that: The bill would withhold federal money from states with racially disproportionate arrest and incarceration rates, and would use any money withheld to fund libraries and job training. Moreover, it would require courts to expunge existing marijuana convictions, and would allow those subject to discriminatory cannabis arrests to sue states.
In a statement, Gillibrand had this to say about her support of the bill.
Just one minor possession conviction could take away a lifetime of opportunities for jobs, education, and housing, tear families apart, and make people more vulnerable to serving time in jail or prison down the road. The reality that my 14-year-old son would likely be treated very differently from one of his Black or Latino peers if he was caught with marijuana is shameful. Legalizing marijuana is a social justice issue and a moral issue that Congress needs to address, and I’m proud to work with Senator Booker on this legislation to help fix decades of injustice caused by our nation’s failed drug policies.
To commemorate the announcement, Booker and Gillibrand went live on Facebook to discuss marijuana legalization. It's well worth a watch - check it out below:
I am so proud to announce that I will be cosponsoring the Marijuana Justice Act introduced by my friend Cory Booker. We'll be going live from my Facebook page for a few minutes to discuss just how important it is for us to pass this legislation. This is one of the most important moral and social justice issues of our time. We can’t truly reform our criminal justice system without legalizing marijuana and reversing the legacy of the unequal enforcement of our drug laws. I hope you’ll join us!Posted by Kirsten Gillibrand on Wednesday, February 14, 2018