Senator Chuck Schumer To Push For Marijuana Decriminalization

By Keri Blakinger 04/23/18

On 4/20, New York Senator Chuck Schumer announced his plan to decriminalize marijuana on a federal level.

Senator Chuck Schumer
Photo via YouTube

On the unofficial holiday for pot smokers, Sen. Chuck Schumer became the highest-ranking elected politician in D.C. to roll out a federal marijuana legalization measure.

Apparently channeling his inner millennial, the New York Democrat announced his proposal in a high holiday tweetstream, VICE interview and Medium post.

“It’s official,” he tweeted. “Today, I am formally announcing my plan to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. It’s time we allow states, once and for all, to have the power to decide what works best for them.”

Schumer went on to advocate for allowing states to function as their “own laboratories of democracy” by removing barriers to state legalization.

Back in 2014, Schumer told NBC that he wanted to see how recreational marijuana played out in the states that were allowing it before he would consider pushing for it in Congress, according to Fortune.

“The view I have, and I’m a little cautious on this, is let’s see how the state experiments work,” he said at the time. 

Four years later, Schumer now seems ready to take a different stand.

“Why have I changed my stance?” he tweeted. “Looking at the numbers helped. 2/3 of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized, meanwhile more than half of all drug arrests in the United States are marijuana arrests.”

Currently, marijuana is still categorized as a Schedule I drug by the federal government, deemed to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” That puts it in the same category as heroin and ecstasy. 

“Under existing law, the federal government considers marijuana as dangerous as heroin and treats it less favorably than cocaine. That has to change,” Schumer wrote.

“In addition to decriminalization, my bill will invest critical resources into the THC research needed to prevent unintended effects on our youth and ensure highway safety."

Predictably, his tweet thread sparked some widespread support on social media, with the first tweet drawing more than 116,000 likes in less than 48 hours.

“And Hell has frozen over,” one Twitter user wrote. “I actually agree with Chuck on something #420day.”

But some panned the proposal from the start.

"I don't think he's really serious. He's just trying to get some votes," security consultant and former DEA agent Harold Patin told New Orleans TV station WVUE

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.