What Is The Marijuana Justice Act And Why Is It Important
AG Jeff Sessions recently announced that he would rescind the Cole Memo which protected legal states from federal interference. The crackdown seems possible but pro-legalization lawmakers are responding strong. On Wednesday, a group of House Democrats introduced the Marijuana Justice Act which aims to change federal cannabis laws. Why is it crucial?
What Is The Marijuana Justice Act?
The bill is introduced by Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna, both representatives from California. It is similar to a bill introduced last fall in the Senate by New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker which was hailed as “the single most far-reaching marijuana bill that’s ever been filed in either chamber of Congress.”
The reason behind this is that the bill goes way beyond cannabis legalization. Here’s what it suggests:
- Federal legalization of cannabis;
- Expunging all federal convictions for possessing/using cannabis;
- Founding of a “community reinvestment fund” which will support job training and help communities that have had disproportionately many weed arrests;
- Cutting federal funds for law enforcement and prison construction in states in which weed arrests disproportionately affected people of color or poor people.
What Is The Marijuana Justice Act Trying To Accomplish?
The bill is important because it aims to solve the consequences of the harm done by the war on drugs that disproportionately affected people of color or poor communities.
Rep. Lee said, “we intend to end this destructive war on drugs, and this legislation will do that.” She added, “it is a roadmap for ending the drug war, but it also begins to address mass incarceration and disinvestment in communities of color. It is an essential step to correcting the injustices of the failed war on drugs, namely racial disparities in arrest and incarceration.”
According to a study published by the ACLU, black and white people consume cannabis at roughly at the same rates. However, black people are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for possession. Depending on the state, these convictions can cut people from public assistance programs, including access to housing and education. Moreover, according to Rep. Khanna, the amount of time black people spend in the jail for cannabis charges equates to “hundreds of millions of dollars in lost economic potential.”
The Bottom Line: The Marijuana Justice Act Is Important
The bill aims to resist AG Sessions’ attempt to interfere with legal states’ marijuana policies and legalize cannabis at the federal level. It also suggests ending the war on drugs which disproportionately affects people of color and poor communities. Currently, it has 12 Democratic co-sponsors, and it is not clear whether this bill has a chance of passing into law. Let’s wait and see.
This post is based on this material.
(Sweedsy in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws. To learn more, click here.)