By Emily Ledger
Three US Senators have announced their plans to push for federal cannabis legalisation in the coming year. The senators all represent the Democrat party and include the Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer who recently re-announced his support of cannabis reforms in the US.
Senators Corey Brooker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon are also behind the proposed reforms which were outlined in a joint statement released by the three politicians.
The War on Drugs has been a war on the people – particularly people of colour.
The statement continues: “Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of colour across the country.”
While a significant portion of US states have now moved to recreational and/or medical legalisation (15 states and the Democratic Capital have legalised recreational use while 33 have legalised medical use) the drug remains restricted for either application at the federal level.
A number of cannabis legal states have also introduced social equity and justice programmes with the aim of addressing the harm done to communities of colour throughout prohibition. However, many of these programmes have faced criticism for their inefficiency and lack of effectiveness.
The election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States marks the start of a political era where the potential for cannabis reforms could be more promising than ever before. The plan to decriminalise cannabis made up a significant part of the campaigns of Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Yet the trio of Democrat senators clearly plans to take steps to push cannabis reforms in the 117th congress one step further. The joint statement by Schumer, Brooker and Wyden also announces that while “states continue to legalise marijuana” they will also work to “lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs.”
The statement reads: “We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies.”
While cannabis legalisation has gained huge momentum in recent years – five states legalised recreational cannabis in November alone – social equity measures to support this legislation change remain largely underdeveloped.
However, the three senators have revealed that they plan to release a unified discussion draft to address meaningful, comprehensive reform to cannabis laws early this year. This will include measures “to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations.”