An effort to legalize marijuana at the federal level inched ahead as New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker unveiled new legislation to end the prohibition.
But the prospects for legal recreational weed nationwide are as hazy as ever.
Booker’s bill comes as the President Donald Trump’s administration has signaled its hostility toward marijuana even as eight states and the District of Columbia have greenlighted the use of marijuana.
In New Jersey, a leading candidate for governor says he backs legalization even though term-limited Republican Gov. Chris Christie is adamantly opposed to the idea.
Christie, who heads President Donald Trump’s anti-opioid commission, which just called for enacting a public health emergency in a recent interim report, said he opposes Booker’s plan.
“We’re in the middle of an opioid crisis,” he said. “We want to send a message that other drugs are OK to take? I just don’t understand the logic there.”
Booker, who held a news event in Linden, New Jersey, on Friday, countered — citing an ACLU study — that the wrong message is that marijuana arrests have disproportionately affected black and poor people.
“Apply the rule of law equally. Marijuana has been a tool with which we have undermined the economic well-being of millions of Americans and it’s about time it stops,” he said.
A closer look at the issue:
BOOKER’S BILL DOES WHAT?
Booker framed the issue around what he says is the unfair prosecution and imprisonment of poor and minority citizens. He says those people are more likely to be locked up on marijuana use and possession charges than wealthy, white residents.
His bill would automatically expunge federal use and possession convictions, in addition to legalizing the drug. It would also allow those currently serving time on those charges to petition for a resentencing