While a number of states have legalized use of marijuana for various contexts, the federal government still considers it a harmful and illegal drug. Schumer stopped short of calling it legalization, but de-scheduling would essentially make marijuana legal at the federal level.
Schumer first shared his intentions Thursday in an interview with Vice News, in which he decried the negative effects of current marijuana laws, under which the drug has the same legal classification as heroin.
"The bill lets the states decide and be the laboratories that they ought to be", Schumer said. In January, the Pew Research Center found 61 percent of Americans supportive of legalization, with support reaching 70 percent among millennials. But as more and more states legalize some marijuana use and an industry is beginning to boom around its sale, powerful politicians in both parties are shifting their stances and seeing the political benefits.
"This means that federal agents will not be arresting people, trying people for marijuana use", Schumer said in his video post.
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Even teetotalling and presumably cannabis-free President Trump endorsed letting states decide how to regulate pot last week, Bloomberg reported.
Schumer's move aligns him with lawmakers to his left in the Senate Democratic caucus. Sen. The aim, Schumer said, is to ensure that marijuana businesses aren't allowed to target children in their advertisements.
David Howard King recently surveyed the political landscape here in NY for legalization and concluded that the state is headed in that direction.
Under current federal law, marijuana is treated as though it's as risky as heroin and more unsafe than cocaine. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has long favored decriminalizing marijuana. Over the next few months I hope that I will have your support as I work to bring Democrats and Republicans together to better serve their constituents and support the rights of Americans to freely and safely use marijuana as they please.
It's clear that African Americans and Latinos have been disproportionately impacted; approximately 80% of people in federal prison and 60% in state prison for drug offenses are black or Latino.