Politics

Senate leader Schumer calls for marijuana to be decriminalized by next year's 4/20

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Key Points
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday reiterated his call to legalize marijuana at the federal level, saying he hopes to see an end to the drug's prohibition by next year's 4/20.
  • "Hopefully, the next time this unofficial holiday, 4/20, rolls around, our country will have made progress in addressing the massive overcriminalization of marijuana in a meaningful and comprehensive way," said Schumer.
A man displays medical marijuana from a Massachusetts medical marijuana dispensary in Salem.
Jonathan Wiggs | The Boston Globe | Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday reiterated his call to legalize marijuana at the federal level, saying he hopes to see an end to the drug's prohibition by next year's 4/20.

"Hopefully, the next time this unofficial holiday, 4/20, rolls around, our country will have made progress in addressing the massive overcriminalization of marijuana in a meaningful and comprehensive way," Schumer said on the floor of the upper chamber.

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Schumer said the nation's war on drugs has "too often been a war on people, particularly people of color."

"I believe the time has come to end the federal prohibition on marijuana in this country, and I'm working with Sens. Booker and Wyden on legislation to do just that," he said.

In February, Schumer and Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., released a joint statement that also called for restorative justice for people who have been convicted of pot-related crimes.

The senators said then that they would release "a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform" early this year and that passing the legislation will be a priority for the Senate. The draft has yet to be released.

The House recently passed legislation that allows banks to work with cannabis companies in states where cannabis is legal, which was seen as a move to allow for more commercial, federal use.

That legislation now waits for Senate approval.

So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use, and 36 states permit medical use of the drug.