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

July 14, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the release of draft legislation to end the prohibition on marijuana at the federal level for the first time in several generations. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Later today, I will join with my colleagues Senators Booker and Wyden to release draft legislation to reform federal marijuana laws. Principally, to end the prohibition on marijuana at the federal level for the first time in several generations.

Over the past decade, Americans’ attitudes towards marijuana have undergone a dramatic transformation.

Listen to this: nearly 70% of Americans support legalizing adult use of marijuana. 70%. Eighteen states plus D.C. have passed laws on adult use of marijuana. Thirty-seven states and D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical use. The states are supposed to be our laboratories for democracy, and by all accounts, these experiments have been a success. The doom and gloom predictions of the naysayers – all crime will go way up, drug use will go way up – have never, never materialized.

I know a state like South Dakota had this on its ballot in the last election, and in that conservative state, the majority of people voted in the same direction we’re talking about here.

For decades, for decades, young men and young women, disproportionately young Black and Hispanic men and women, have been arrested and jailed for carrying even a small amount of marijuana in their pocket—a charge that often came with exorbitant penalties and a serious criminal record because of the overcriminalization of marijuana, and it followed them for the remainder of their lives. It makes no sense and it’s time for a change.

Now is the time for Congress to engage in this debate, update our federal laws to not only reflect popular wisdom but science. Marijuana, amazingly in this twenty-first century, is still treated by federal law with the same hostility as heroin, despite it being far, far less dangerous.

So I greatly look forward to releasing this draft legislation with my colleagues Senators Wyden and Booker today. We will speak about how our bill will address the issues related to updating our federal marijuana laws; not just ending the federal prohibition, but how it will ensure restorative justice, protect public health, and implement responsible taxes and regulations.