This morning at 6:30am PST, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker published the following history-making tweet: Hours later on Facebook Live, Senator Booker became the first New Jersey Democrat to introduce federal legislation that would legalize marijuana across the country. Titled the Marijuana Justice Act, the bill would allow people serving time for cannabis-related offenses to be resentenced and automatically expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes. It would amend the Controlled Substance Act to recategorize cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, which would decriminalize it on a federal level. Outdated cannabis laws have had devastating effects on communities of color and low-income populations, tearing apart families and wasting precious tax dollars. The Marijuana Justice Act would give incentives to states with disproportionately high arrest rates, and states that are found to target the disenfranchised would be punished by removing federal funding for constructing or staffing jails. The additional funds from penalized states would go towards a “Community Reinvestment Fund” that would help create job opportunities, youth programs, and community centers in areas most impacted by the war on drugs. Only time will tell if the bill receives enough support to be passed through Congress. Senator Bernie Sanders proposed a similar bill in 2015 that gained no co-sponsors and stalled in the Judiciary Committee. The Trump administration has promised to take a hard line on drug offenses, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently petitioning congressional leaders to remove protections for medical marijuana that have been in place since 2014. Senator Booker’s bill might be more symbolic than realistic under this administration, but it sends a strong signal to the cannabis industry that the tides are changing and that we may soon see more equitable laws under different leadership. If you want to see Senator Booker’s bill become reality, call and urge your representatives to take action!

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