AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Sen. Cory Booker unveiled legislation Tuesday that would remove marijuana from the federal government’s list of controlled dangerous substances, effectively ending a longtime ban on the drug in what would be a sea change for the U.S. criminal justice system.
Booker, a former mayor of Newark, is calling on Congress to legalize marijuana so that minority communities that have been disproportionately punished for low-level drug offenses are treated more fairly.
His plan also would provide incentives for states to legalize the drug if their laws were found to punish minorities on a disproportionate basis and allow judges to retroactively review sentences for marijuana-related crimes.
“We believe that states should be moving in the same way to legalize marijuana, to end racial disparities in enforcement of marijuana laws and, frankly to end the disproportionate targeting of poor people,” Booker said during his bill announcement on Facebook Live. “It is not enough just to say that marijuana is going to be legalized. Let’s move forward. This has done serious damage to our communities. It has serious damage to American families.”