Cory Booker Introduces Bill To Legalize Marijuana
The ongoing conversation about legal marijuana use has found a new cosigner in Senator Cory Booker.
The former mayor of New Jersey introduced the Marijuana Justice Act on Facebook live Tuesday (Aug. 1) in an effort to combat the mass incarceration of people of color, and giving the current battle of increased opioid use a possible solution.
Under Booker's proposed bill, marijuana would no longer be illegal under federal law; people in prison under marijuana charges would have the chance to appeal or reduce their sentences; and areas plagued by marijuana laws would be eligible for funds to build community spaces like public libraries and youth centers.
“You see these marijuana arrests happening so much in our country, targeting certain communities — poor communities, minority communities — targeting people with an illness,” he said. "We’re not seeing the equal application of our criminal justice system. We’re not seeing people being arrested in any way that reflect our values."
Speaking with NBC News, Booker also brought up the idea of legal marijuana healing people with chronic pain and being a helpful replacement for those recovering from heavy opioid use. "I've seen a lot of very compelling preliminary data that shows there is a drop in opioid overdoses in areas that have better access to marijuana," Booker said. The nation's underlying issue with opioids isn't from drug cartels but from the overprescribing of addictive painkillers.
But Attorney General Jeff Sessions, since his start in the Oval Office, has stated his rejection of any bill for legal Mary Jane. "Give me a break," he said in February. "You know, this is the kind of argument that has been made out there. Almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana... I doubt that's true. Maybe science will prove I'm wrong. My best view is we don't need to be legalizing marijuana."
Like many others, Booker believes Sessions' take on marijuana is extreme. "I believe the federal government should get out of the illegal marijuana business,” Booker said.
Read the legislation for Booker's bill in full, here.