United States

Sen. Cory Booker Introduces Bill to Legalize Marijuana

U.S. Senator Cory Booker is introducing a bill to legalize marijuana at a federal level. 

The New Jersey Democrat, and former mayor of Newark, announced in a Facebook Live video his intention to introduce the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017. The legislation seeks to remove the classification of pot as a Schedule I drug, the same category as heroin, with no recognized medical use or value.

The bill would also allow people serving time for marijuana-related offenses to be resentenced and automatically expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes, according to NorthJersey.com.

Booker says the current federal drug laws "divert critical resources from fighting violent crimes, tear families apart, unfairly impact low-income communities and communities of color and waste billions in taxpayer dollars each year."

Booker said on Facebook the bill is an effort to "remedy many of the failures of the War on Drugs." 

"This is the right thing to do for public safety, and will help reduce our overflowing prison population," he wrote. 

The legislation comes in the face of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' stiff opposition to the drug. Sessions has said he wants to crack down on the drug even as a growing number of states legalize it.

Marijuana is legal for medical or adult use in 28 states, accounting for more than 60 percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), an advocacy group that lobbies for federal marijuana reform.

Under President Barack Obama, federal authorities largely took a hands-off approach to state-level legalization efforts. But Trump's Justice Department has started rolling back some of the previous administration's policies aimed at granting more leeway to drug offenders, NorthJersey.com reports.

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