Federal marijuana penalties are incredibly harsh despite punishing a victimless crime and marijuana having medical uses. For example, while marijuana is a Schedule VI drug under Tennessee law, it is a Schedule I drug under federal law. T.C.A. § 39-17-415; 21 U.S. Code § 812. This means that, federally, marijuana is in the same schedule as heroin and LSD.
Our current marijuana laws have been subject to intense criticism for increasing opioid use, breaking up families, disproportionately hurting communities of color, and helping the drug cartels. Despite the torrent of criticism aimed at marijuana law, politicians have been all talk and little action.
Until now. Senator Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act would
· Remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, making it legal at the federal level;
· Incentivize states through federal funds to change their marijuana laws if marijuana in the state is illegal and the state disproportionately arrests or incarcerates low-income individuals and people of color for marijuana-related offenses;
· Automatically expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes;
· Allow an individual currently serving time in federal prison for marijuana use or possession crimes to petition a court for a resentencing;
· Create a community reinvestment fund to reinvest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs and allow those funds to be invested in the following programs:
o Job training;
o Reentry services;
o Expenses related to the expungement of convictions;
o Public libraries;
o Community centers;
o Programs and opportunities dedicated to youth; and
o Health education programs.
Watch Senator Booker’s argument for decriminalizing marijuana: