Friday was 4/20, an annual day of celebration for cannabis lovers. It’s a holiday of sorts for both consumers and the industry. And there’s a lot to celebrate this year as California and Nevada launch recreational sales, Pennsylvania launches medicinal cannabis, Vermont legalizes, Massachusetts and Maine are working on it, and even Canada is expected to launch its recreational cannabis program this year. And there’s more.
To kick off the celebration, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer showed up on 4/20 even to place the star atop the tree and hand the industry a gift that might keep on giving. In an appearance on VICE News Tonight on HBO, Schumer announced that he would be introducing legislation to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level and remove it from the DES’s list of Schedule I substances.
Schumer told VICE News Tonight’s audience, “Ultimately, it’s the right thing to do. Freedom. If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?”
Schumer claims that the legislation would make marijuana legal at the federal level allowing states to implement and regulate legal cannabis without harassment from federal law enforcement agencies.
Nonprofit group The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) hailed Schumer’s plan to de-schedule the drug.
Aaron Smith, the group’s Executive Director, said of the move, “We agree with Senator Schumer that this legislation is long overdue and commend his leadership as the Senate’s top Democrat to finally modernize our nation’s marijuana policies. Removing cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act will allow states to continue to successfully regulate cannabis, undermine criminal markets, create new economic opportunities, and will pave the way to much-needed research into the therapeutic potential of cannabis.”
"If smoking marijuana doesn't hurt anybody else, why shouldn't we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?" Schumer told Vice News Tonight.
Schumer's announcement comes within days of Mitch McConnell’s introduction of a bill to fully legalize hemp.
Thirty states and the District of Columbia have already passed laws legalizing marijuana in some form, with nine of them legalizing the drug for recreational use. Washington DC also has recreational use laws.
National Public Radio website has more on this story. PotNetwork will post updates on this story and the contents of the legislation as it develops.