WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIS) - If United States Senator Cory Booker has his way, the recreational use of marijuana will become legal across the United States.
The New Jersey Democrat made the announcement via Facebook Live on Tuesday afternoon.
The Marijuana Justice Act, if passed, would legalize marijuana at the federal level and "go even further in an effort to remedy many of the failures of the War on Drugs," Booker wrote on Facebook.
Booker also argued those who are behind bars for marijuana-related crimes should be released or have their sentences reduced.
"This is the right thing to do for public safety, and will help reduce our overflowing prison population," he said.
"For decades, the failed War on Drugs has locked up millions of nonviolent drug offenders - especially for marijuana-related offenses—at an incredible cost of lost human potential, torn apart families and communities, and taxpayer dollars," Booker wrote. "The effects of the drug war have had a disproportionately devastating impact on Americans of color and the poor."
Some states over the past few years have legalized the recreational use of pot, however, that use is still against federal law. Eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Booker says crime has dropped and revenue has risen for those states. Twenty-nine states allow the use of medical marijuana.
"I believe the federal government should get out of the illegal marijuana business, "Booker said. "It disturbs me right now that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not moving as the states are, moving as public opinion is, but actually saying that we should be doubling-down and enforce federal marijuana laws even in states that have made marijuana legal.
Booker's bill would de-schedule marijuana from the list of controlled substances. It would also retroactively expunge people who have been convicted of use and possession of marijuana. "These are charges that follow people for the rest of their lives," he said. "making it difficult for them to do things that we take for granted."
The bill, according to Booker, also creates a community reinvestment fund to help communities that have been "devastated by marijuana laws and their unjust application" so they can apply for funds to help with job training, re-entry services and expenses related to expungement and conviction.
Should Booker's bill become law, individual states would still have the power to deem pot use, whether medical or recreational, illegal. Booker hopes states would follow that new federal law. "We believe that states should be moving in the same way," he said. "To legalize marijuana. To end racial disparities in enforcement of marijuana laws."
A Gallup Poll conducted in October of 2016 shows around 60 percent of those polled believe the use of marijuana should be legalized.
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