Senate Hearing Examines if Cannabis should be Legalized at the Federal Level

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Should cannabis be legalized at the federal level? That’s an idea being tossed around at our nation’s Capitol. However the idea is receiving a lot of push back from some members.  

“It’s clear now after decades of evidence that the federal cannabis prohibition has failed,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D- NJ).  

In a recent Senate hearing, members debated the idea of legalizing cannabis at the federal level. According to the DEA, cannabis is classified as a schedule one drug, which is defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. 

As of right now, 38 states including the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use. 19 states and D.C. have legalized it for recreational adult use. 

“For generations the federal cannabis prohibition has also been a care piece of disastrous war on drugs that is targeted and destroyed the lives of so many Americans particularly vulnerable Americans and communities across our country,” said Sen. Booker. “For example, data shows that Black and white Americans use cannabis at roughly the same rates yet studies have shown that Black Americans are more than three and a half times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession.” 

Those for this proposal said keeping cannabis illegal at the federal level fails to make our communities safer and has impacted low-income communities. However, others disagree. They worry legalizing cannabis will not stop any illicit drug trafficking and could be even more harmful.  

“The danger for young Americans is especially acute recent studies linked use of marijuana by young people with a higher likelihood of committing violent crimes and suicide,” said Sen. Tom Cotton (R- AR). “After all, why is marijuana illegal under federal law? It’s simple. It has no accepted medical use, it’s dangerous and its addictive.” 

Its unlikely congress would approve this idea, but we know that Senator Chuck Schumer (D- NY) co-sponsored legislation to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. In that bill, it would also expunge federal cannabis related records and help create funding for law enforcement officers to fight illegal cannabis cultivation.