On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) introduced a draft bill that would effectively legalize marijuana on a federal level. The draft bill was proposed by Schumer along with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). It proposes to remove all federal penalties on cannabis, expunge all nonviolent federal cannabis-related criminal records, and let states decide their own policy on the drug’s legalization.
The proposal reflects the evolving politics around marijuana, as 18 states have now fully legalized the drug and 37 allow for medical marijuana to be used. Despite these evolving policies and opinions regarding legalization, this bill marks the first ever cannabis legalization-centered piece of legislation supported by a Senate majority leader, according to remarks by Booker reported by CNN.
Schumer’s bill would require at least 10 Republican votes in addition to a vote from all 50 members of the Democratic caucus, some of which are skeptical of the bill. Further, Schumer does not yet have the explicit support of President Joe Biden, though Vice President Kamala Harris has been vocal about her support for legalizing cannabis on a federal level.
The bill gives states control of their own cannabis policy, which could draw in the support of some conservative senators who prioritize state’s rights. The bill also provides a grant of funding for marijuana research, such as collecting data regarding traffic deaths, violent crime, and other public health concerns.
The legislation also seeks to combat the effects of the infamous War on Drugs by including grant programs that would aid disadvantaged groups, as well as expungement of nonviolent federal cannabis offenses.