On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, reports The Hill.
The bill is called the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act and would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana is currently listed as a schedule one drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration. This means it’s classified as a drug that has “a high potential for abuse and the potential to create severe psychological and/or physical dependence.” Other schedule one drugs include heroine, LSD, ecstasy, peyote and Quaaludes. According to the DEA, some of the schedule two drugs that are classified as less harmful than marijuana include meth, oxycodone, Adderall and cocaine. Schumer’s bill would completely remove marijuana from the schedule.
However, states would still have the power to decide how they will treat marijuana possession, and federal authorities will still monitor and prevent trafficking between states with varying marijuana laws. The bill also keeps safety in mind by giving $250 million over the span of five years to highway safety research in order to analyze and assess driving under the influence of marijuana, as well as to develop technology to measure impairment. The Department of Treasury would have the authority to regulate marijuana advertising in the same way tobacco advertising is regulated to ensure children are protected. Finally, the bill would invest $500 million across five years to the secretary of Health and Human Services to ensure public health. HHS would work with the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration to research the effects of THC and how it can be used in the medical field.
The bill also works to level the playing field in the marijuana economy. Funding would be provided to the Small Business Administration which, according to the statement, would “ensure that women and minority entrepreneurs have access to the new marijuana industries in their states.” Finally, states would be allowed to seal or expunge individual marijuana records if the bill passes.
Schumer said of the bill:
The time to decriminalize marijuana is now. The new Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is about giving states the freedom to be the laboratories that they should be and giving Americans—especially women and minority business owners as well as those convicted of simple possession of marijuana intended for personal use- the opportunity to succeed in today’s economy. This legislation is simply the right thing to do and I am hopeful that the balanced approach it takes can earn bipartisan support in Congress and across the country.
The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine and Tammy Duckworth.