Cory Booker reintroduces Marijuana Justice Act favored by fellow 2020 hopefuls

February 28, 2019 GMT

Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey on Thursday renewed an effort to pass expansive federal marijuana legislation supported by several fellow Democrats seeking the party’s nomination to run against President Trump in 2020.

“Today I’m reintroducing my 2017 bill, the Marijuana Justice Act, that would begin the process of reversing years of failed federal drug policies,” Mr. Booker said in a statement.

“The War on Drugs has not been a war on drugs, it’s been a war on people and disproportionately people of color and low-income individuals,” Mr. Booker said. “The Marijuana Justice Act seeks to reverse decades of this unfair, unjust and failed policy by removing marijuana from the list of controlled substances and making it legal at the federal level.”


Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 narcotic under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, placing the plant alongside heroin in a category reserved for drugs deemed prone to abuse and void of medical value. Thirty-three states and counting have legalized marijuana for either medicinal or recreational purposes, however, putting most of the country in direct conflict with federal law and accordingly creating complications for state-legal industries spawning from coast to coast.

In addition to removing marijuana entirely from the CSA, Mr. Booker’s office said his bill would automatically expunge past marijuana use and possession offense; allow inmates serving time to petition for a re-sentencing; provide incentives for states to legalize pot; and establish grants to be given to communities most affected by existing policies.

Prior to stalling in the last congressional sessions, the Marijuana Justice Act mustered the support of several fellow senators currently seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination to run against Mr. Trump, including Democrats Kristen Gillibrand of New York, Kamala D. Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, in addition to Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent and fellow 2020 presidential hopeful.

A former mayor of Newark serving in the Senate since 2013, Mr. Booker formally announced his candidacy on Feb. 1. Speaking in a radio interview moments after tossing his hat in the race, Mr. Booker said one of his goals if elected was “ending [the] prohibition against marijuana.”