The Senate’s top Democrat, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, has announced legislation that would de-schedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. The announcement — which fell symbolically on April 20, the international cannabis celebration known colloquially as 4/20 — represents a major shift for Democrats, according to a CNBC report.
Schumer’s bill would reportedly remove cannabis from the CSA’s list of controlled substances, giving states a clear path for moving forward from federal prohibition at their own discretion. The bill would nix punishments for the plant at the federal level and encourage more efforts toward legalization and normalization. If passed, Schumer said the bill would also boost funding for women- and minority-owned cannabis companies.
“The time has come to decriminalize marijuana. My thinking – as well as the general population’s views – on the issue has evolved, and so I believe there’s no better time than the present to get this done. It’s simply the right thing to do.” — Schumer, in a statement
The bill will likely see some bipartisan support in the GOP-controlled Senate but is expected to face heavier opposition in the more conservative House of Representatives. And — despite the nation’s top cop Jeff Sessions‘ personal vendetta against cannabis — even President Trump may be prepared for major cannabis reforms, having recently struck an agreement with Colorado Sen. Cory Gardener (R) supporting states rights and a federalism-based solution for the disconnect between state and federal cannabis laws.
Meanwhile, a former congressional leader has also announced a change of heart. John Boehner, the former Republican House Speaker, announced earlier this month that he was joining the board of directors for a New York-based cannabis corporation.
During that announcement, Boehner also said that “my thinking on cannabis has evolved” — the same phrase used by Schumer this week in announcing his pivotal legislation. Whether or not this sentiment will become more prevalent in the months to come remains to be seen, but it appears that politicians are beginning to grasp the fact that cannabis reforms are more popular among voters than they are.