U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey has reintroduced legislation to legalize marijuana at the federal level.
The second-term Democrat said marijuana use is so common — even among politicians — that people should no longer go to prison for it.
“You have people being punished for doing things that two of the last three [U.S.] presidents admitted to doing,” Booker said Thursday on Facebook Live. “You have congresspeople and senators now wanting to admit their marijuana usage, at the same time that people are in jail for doing what they admitted.”
The legislation would lift the prohibition on marijuana possession at the federal level.
It also has social justice components. Booker’s bill calls for reinvesting in communities affected by the war on drugs and expunging the criminal records of those with federal marijuana convictions.
“What really ticks me off — and it gets me very angry — is that people keep talking about adult use, adult use, adult use,” he said, “but don’t, in the same breath, talk about undoing the damage of an unjust system.”
Booker has floated the idea before; so far, it has not gotten enough support to pass in Congress.
Advocates in New Jersey praised the idea. The Rev. Dr. Charles Boyer, pastor at the Bethel AME Church in Woodbury, said legalizing marijuana at the national level would align with the growing trend toward legalization across the country.
“It moves on a federal level a major piece which is necessary with what’s happening in many states,” Boyer said. “It’s a major first step in the dismantling of the war on drugs.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and top lawmakers support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, but they haven’t been able to agree on the details of a plan to put it into law.