On March 18, 2021, via live broadcast, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Chairman of the Finance Committee Senator Ron Wyden(D-OR) called for the end of the federal prohibition of cannabis due to the longstanding harm it has caused BIPOC communities.
“It is long past time to address the harms of the failed war on drugs… it’s kind of like the federal government has been in a time warp,” said Senator Wyden. Chuck Schumer called the federal level decriminalization of cannabis an “issue of justice, justice, justice, as well as freedom.” Booker pointed out that this movement to federally legalize cannabis is about social justice: in 2019 there were more cannabis arrests for minor possession charges than all other crimes combined, stating that the current climate surrounding cannabis is not a war on drugs, it is a war on people: veterans, people of color, people with low income, and those with mental health issues are arrested at disproportionate rates for simple possession.
While African Americans and Whites have the same rates of cannabis usage, African Americans are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession. Booker called for us to not just legalize cannabis, but move toward restorative justice by expunging criminal records, reinvesting tax money from cannabis sales into communities of color, and ensuring that the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry does not become successful with only big Wall Street-backed businesses. The senators are committed to ensuring that the cannabis industry supports small business endeavors as well. Having representation on the Finance Committee, the trio will have some power to move federal decriminalization plans along.
The trio called for us all to let our congressional representatives know that this bill is long overdue. Currently, the senators are collecting input from stakeholders on restorative justice issues, public health efforts, and a responsible tax and regulation system as they prepare to introduce this new legislation.
As holistic healers, we are ethically obligated to advocate for others. Feel to share your knowledge and expertise around medical cannabis and the federal legalization process by contacting the senators and expressing your support:
- Senator Booker: (202) 224-3224
- Senator Schumer: (202) 224-6542
- Senator Wyden: (202) 224-5244