In an interview airing this evening on HBO, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told VICE News that he’s working on legislation that will decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, which should give weed enthusiasts an extra reason to celebrate 4/20 tomorrow. Schumer says that the bill is “long overdue” among other reasons, because too many people have been delivered prison sentences after getting busted with small amounts of the drug.
“Ultimately, it’s the right thing to do,” he told VICE. “Freedom. If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?”
The legislation, which Schumer’s office expects will be released within the next week, has six main points. First, it would remove marijuana from Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances, which would end federal prohibition and leave it up to states to decide how to regulate the drug. Schumer stopped short of calling it legalization, but de-scheduling would essentially make marijuana legal at the federal level.
His bill would also would create some funding for minority and women-owned marijuana businesses, provide money for research into overall effects of marijuana and it’s specific effect on driving impairment. And lastly, it would “maintain federal authority to regulate marijuana advertising in the same way it does alcohol and tobacco,” which Schumer said is to make sure marijuana businesses aren’t targeting children with their ads.
Although Republicans still control congress, more and more are coming around to the idea, as 64 percent of Americans are now in support of legalization — the highest percentage ever, according to a Gallup poll taken last year. Those still opposed to legalization are facing an uphill battle at this point, and it seems like only a matter of time before the United States joins the handful of other countries across the world with legal marijuana.
The news also comes just hours after an FDA panel voted unanimously in favor of a cannibis-based drug used to treat seizures in children.