In 2015, Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana on a federal level. Unfortunately, that legislation did not survive at the time. On Monday, almost 2 years later, Rep. Tom Garrett revived that legislation and introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017. If it passes, it will remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances. Marijuana is still listed as a Schedule I drug, the highest risk category next to heroin and LSD. It is listed as having no medicinal value. Many legislators and advocates have been pushing to have marijuana declassified or reclassified but no one has been successful. This bill offers another option to those who want to end prohibition and its devastating effects.
A Stark Contrast of Federal Marijuana Perspectives
“Statistics indicate that minor narcotics crimes disproportionately hurt areas of lower socio-economic status, and what I find most troubling is that we continue to keep laws on the books that we do not enforce,” Garrett said in his statement. “Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California.”
Unfortunately, Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Attorney General appointed by the Trump administration is well known to be a loud and proud opponent of marijuana reform. His facts and mindset are rooted in reefer madness and there appears to be no way of convincing him otherwise. On Monday, he told reporters at the Department of Justice, “I’m definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana. States can pass the laws they choose. I would just say it remains a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”
Dubious Claims of Violence Surrounding Marijuana
He also claimed that there was more violence around the distribution of marijuana than people realize. What he fails to recognize through this statement is that any violence that surrounds marijuana is a result of prohibition, not legalization. It is a plant that has been scientifically proven to be healthier than alcohol and cigarettes on numerous occasions. If prohibition wasn’t a factor and the black market was erased, then crime would go down and everyone would benefit from the tax revenue generated by its sale as opposed to just those working in the black market.
Uniting the People in Favor of Marijuana
The Obama administration allowed states to create their own laws without interference. The Trump administration appears to be especially looking at cracking down on recreational marijuana. As for medical marijuana, time will tell us how that is handled. Right now 1/5 of the country has legalized recreational marijuana and it is a multibillion dollar industry. There are 68 million Americans currently enjoying the freedom to enjoy the benefits of marijuana should they choose. The opposition against the industry is binding together users with state officials and marijuana growers and business owners who are willing to go to court if their right to create state laws is violated.
There is still no clear indication of how the Trump administration plans to go about cracking down on marijuana. Until some plan is made clear, states plan to continue forward with business as usual.