U.S. Sen. Cory Booker has introduced legislation that would legalize marijuana across the country at the federal level, reversing decades of national policy. Booker said the current drug laws disproportionately affect minority communities. Booker stated, “Our country’s drug laws are badly broken and need to be fixed.”
Booker further went on to say, “They don’t make our communities any safer – instead they divert critical resources from fighting violent crimes, tear families apart, unfairly impact low-income communities and communities of color, and waste billions in taxpayer dollars each year.”
Booker introduced legislation dubbed, Marijuana Justice Act, which would provide federal incentives to states that change their marijuana laws, if those laws were shown to disproportionately affect low-income individuals or people of color. The law would also allow for those convicted of marijuana-related crimes to have their sentences reviewed by a judge.
“Descheduling marijuana and applying that change retroactively to people currently serving time for marijuana offenses is a necessary step in correcting this unjust system. States have so far led the way in reforming our criminal justice system and it’s about time the federal government catches up and begins to assert leadership,” Booker said.
While marijuana use is identical for Black people and white people, Blacks are almost four times more likely to be arrested than whites. Booker said more than half of all drug arrests involve marijuana. In America, more people are arrested for marijuana possession than for armed robbery, murder, and sexual assault combined.
In March 2015, Booker introduced legislation to prevent the federal government from enforcing marijuana laws in the states that have approved the use of the drug for medicinal purposes. All the while, President Trump and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, have insisted they will step-up enforcement of drug laws instead of considering alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders.