In a recent interview, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) told NJ.com’s Dave D’Alessandro that cannabis reforms are on the right path and that Congress has a “good shot” of passing them during the lame-duck session after the midterm elections.
An Optimistic Perspective
Booker, along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a marijuana bill in July that would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis on the federal level, said that he recently discussed the legislation with Schumer and he felt they’d made progress.
“It’s very likely that during the lame duck — before the new Congress — we’re going to see a really good bipartisan attempt to move it. Maybe it’s not the bill I wrote with Schumer and (Ron) Wyden, but an effort to tie in restorative justice and some fair banking provisions,” Booker said.
“I think it has a good chance because our Republican allies also understand that if one of the houses of Congress shifts to Republican, it will be very hard to do anything about marijuana. We’ve got a good shot. I wouldn’t say it’s a great shot, but it’s on a good path.”
Social Justice: A Priority
The bill that passes the Senate must address areas such as restorative justice, making the banking industry equally available, investing tax revenues (to help with addiction and create economic opportunities), and deal with “the sins of the past,” Booker said.
With legalization, “the communities most impacted will benefit in three ways,” Booker said. “One is the criminal justice way, which Biden has started to move towards. The second is reinvesting the tax revenue from legal businesses into the communities that were disproportionately impacted (…) And the third area is in business opportunity: I thought it would be equally shared, but there were dramatically fewer minorities with licenses.”
More Steps To Be Taken
Regarding the measure recently announced by Biden, pardoning people convicted for federal cannabis possession and calling on federal agencies to reclassify marijuana, Booker said that the impact of the president’s action “is stunning.”
However, there’s more to be done. “The fact that we are deporting parents of American children for marijuana possession should outrage every American,” he added, referencing one group that was left out of the president’s clemency action. “And obviously, the folks who have been making these low-level sales, we should look as we move closer to a majority of states moving toward legalization.”
Nevertheless, Booker hailed Biden’s action. “He and I had conversations during those debates — off stage — that were meaningful to me. Because he committed to me to do the things he did [last] week. I just think that’s a powerful thing for your elected leader to say he’s gonna do something and then follow through,” Booker said.
This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.