Top Senate Democrat backs marijuana decriminalization at federal level

By Ed Adamczyk Contact the Author   |  April 20, 2018 at 2:49 PM
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April 20 (UPI) -- Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced support Friday for decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.

It was the first time Schumer, the Senate Minority leader, publicly voiced approval of removing marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 substances under the Controlled Substances Act, a part of 1970 drug policy legislation.

The category includes heroin and cocaine, which are regarded as having no medicinal value, potential danger and a risk of abuse. He also said he would propose legislation to decriminalize marijuana.

"The legislation would allow the states to continue to function as laboratories of democracy and ultimately decide how they will treat marijuana possession. The legislation, however, would not change federal authorities' ability to prevent trafficking from states to where marijuana is legal to states where is not," a statement on Friday from Schumer's office said.

Similar legislation has been proposed in Congress by both Democratic and Republican lawmakers, but Schumer would be the first congressional leader to sponsor such a measure.

Schumer's announcement comes as politicians are considering marijuana legalization. Sixty percent of Americans say they support the idea of legalization, an NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey showed in January -- and Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C., have all legalized marijuana for recreational use.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. -- who stalled President Donald Trump's judicial nominees in exchange for guarantees that Colorado's marijuana industry would not be a target of the federal Justice Department -- said last week Trump assured "that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution" allowing states to decide marijuana policy.

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