Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Introduced By Sen. Chuck Schumer

By Paul Fuhr 07/02/18

The bill tackles marijuana rescheduling, advertising regulations, expungement and research.

Senator Chuck Schumer
Photo via YouTube

New York Senator Chuck Schumer introduced a new bill to regulate marijuana at the federal level, High Times reported. The bill isn’t aimed at legalizing the drug but the proposal would decriminalize it.

Schumer previously announced plans to introduced the bill in April. The legislation would eliminate pot from the Controlled Substances Act, where it currently sits alongside drugs like LSD and heroin. By removing marijuana’s Schedule I classification, Schumer’s bill would “dramatically change the way federal prohibition laws would be enforced.”

The proposed measure would still allow states to establish their own marijuana laws, including Alaska, California and Colorado.

“The time to decriminalize marijuana is now,” Sen. Schumer said in a press statement. “The new Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is about giving states the freedom to be the laboratories that they should be and giving Americans—especially women and minority business owners as well as those convicted of simple possession of marijuana intended for personal use—the opportunity to succeed in today’s economy.”

He added that the law “is simply the right thing to do.”

Co-sponsored by fellow Senators Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine and Tammy Duckworth, the bill would introduce several other changes if it’s passed into law. For one, it would route tax dollars to a Treasury trust fund for weed businesses owned by women as well as “socially and economically disadvantaged” people.

The legislation would also allow the Treasury Department to control various aspects of advertising and marketing around marijuana. The proposed bill would also set nearly $750 million aside for highway safety programs and research into the “pitfalls of driving under the influence of THC,” not to mention developing technology to “reliably measure impairment.”

Perhaps the most significant aspect of Schumer’s bill is that it aims to grant $100 million to “help expunge criminal records of folks who have been convicted in the past for marijuana-related crimes.”

For many of the people helping to get the bill off the ground, High Times observed, it’s about ironing out the problems with how marijuana laws are enforced across the country—especially across racial divides.

“Far too many Americans are currently incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses,” said Sen. Duckworth. “And they are disproportionally people of color, despite the fact that African Americans and Caucasians use marijuana at the same rates.”

Sen. Sanders is particularly hopeful that the bill goes into effect, given that his home state (Vermont) legalized recreational weed earlier this year. Vermont is also exploring the possibility of clearing nearly 3,000 people of misdemeanor marijuana convictions. That said, much of the nation remains hugely inconsistent in its weed laws.

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.