NEWS
Chuck Schumer Says Federal Weed Legalization Will Be Top Priority If Dems Win Senate
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The Senate Minority Leader said he plans to put his sweeping Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act “in play” and believes there's a good chance it'll pass.
Published on October 28, 2020

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Federal cannabis legalization will become a top priority in Congress if the Democrats reclaim the Senate next week, according to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who made this declaration during a video chat hosted by the Black cannabis advocacy group Green Enterprise.

Andrew Farrior, co-founder of the cannabis-focused, minority-founded firm Digital Venture Partners, conducted the interview with the New York senator.

Straight away, Farrior asked about cannabis legalization in general and, more specifically, about the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act. That’s the bill Schumer initially introduced in 2018 that would federally decriminalize weed, fund expungements for prior pot convictions, and invest money into the communities most severely decimated by the War on Drugs.”

“I’m a big fighter for racial justice,” Schumer said, “and the marijuana laws have been one of the biggest examples of racial injustice, and so to change them makes sense. And that fits in with all of the movement now to bring equality in the policing, in economics and in everything else. Our bill is, in a certain sense, at the nexus of racial justice, individual freedom and states’ rights.”

From there, full-blown federal legalization would be the next goal, Schumer said, especially if voters pass legalization initiatives next week in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota.

“It helps push things over,” Schumer said, referring to the momentum of the legalization movement. “What happens then is the people in those states say, ‘See, this was a good thing!’ All the people who were, you know, ‘Wah-wah-wah, something terrible is going to happen’ — [they will] lose their credibility.”

Schumer also made it abundantly clear that the path to legalization begins on November 3, when you vote for Democratic candidates.

“If I become majority leader,” Schumer said, “I put this [reform bill] on the floor and it’s likely to pass. So, how do I become majority leader? Well, this is a little political, you’ll have to forgive me, Andrew, but back to the facts, you vote for a Democratic senator in your state, that’s going to make it happen. Vote if you believe in reform here, if you believe in decriminalizing cannabis. The thing to do is vote for your Democratic Senate candidate because they’ll be part of my team to get this done.”

These statements align with what Schumer said last month in an interview with Leafy regarding legalization: “I am fervently committed to getting it done.”

“On the issue of marijuana,” Schumer said, “it’s clear that if you elect a Democratic Senate and President and a Democratic House, we will make great progress. If you don’t vote and allow Republicans to control things, the only thing you’ll be able to do is complain about how unfair the laws are. And that’ll be right, but why wouldn’t you do something to change it?”

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Mike McPadden
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Mike McPadden is the author of "Heavy Metal Movies" and the upcoming "Last American Virgins." He writes about movies, music, and crime in Chicago. Twitter @mcbeardo
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