Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Introducing Draft Legislation To End The Federal Prohibition On Marijuana

July 15, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the introduction of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, draft legislation which would remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances and expunge the criminal records of those with low-level marijuana offenses. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Twenty years ago, roughly a third of the population supported the decriminalization of marijuana.

Today, that number is now almost 70%. Even deep-rooted South Dakota voted to legalize the adult use of marijuana. Americans’ perceptions of marijuana have, justifiably, changed. And it’s time that Congress caught up, and reformed our laws to reflect the popular wisdom and the science.

So yesterday, I joined with Senators Booker—who has been such a leader on this issue for so long—and Chairmen Wyden—who has been active on this issue as well, as our Finance Chairman—to introduce the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which represents a monumental change, because at long last it would take steps to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs.

It would remove marijuana from the federal list of controlled substances and expunge the criminal records of those with low-level marijuana offenses.

Many states are rapidly moving towards legalization, including my home state of New York. The legislature did that in this past session. These states show the potential for new industries that can give opportunities to long-forgotten entrepreneurs. Our law would establish fair administration so small business and communities of color can get their fair shake in the marijuana business. And we would deal with expungement: the tragedy of a young person being arrested because they have a small amount of marijuana in their pocket. Because of the historic overcriminalization, they have a permanent, serious criminal record that prevents them, inhibits them, from moving forward in their lives.

Now, I am the first Majority Leader to say that it’s time to end the federal prohibition on marijuana. And as majority leader, I am going to push this issue forward and make it a priority for the Senate.

In short, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would help the federal government catch up with what much of the country already understands, that we need to re-think our approach to marijuana and end decades of over-criminalization. 

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