California Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee and Ro Khanna have introduced a bill to legalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge federal convictions for marijuana-related offenses, Business Insider is reporting.
The bill seeks to provide “restorative justice” to people disproportionately affected by enforcement of federal marijuana laws. Rep. Lee called the legislation “a bold proposal to reverse decades of discriminatory drug enforcement and to bring federal marijuana policy in line with the wishes of the American people.”
The bill is sponsored by 12 House Democrats and comes alongside Sen. Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act.
From Business Insider:
The bill proposes creating a $500 million community reinvestment fund to focus on job training for the nascent cannabis industry, prioritizing communities that have a disproportionate number of marijuana arrests and convictions, as well as expunge convictions related to use or possession.
The bill would also cut federal funding for law enforcement and prison construction in states found to disproportionately arrest or convict low-income residents or people of color for marijuana offenses. The money from these cuts would contribute to the community reinvestment fund.
“It’s the reverse of the 1994 crime bill,” Booker said on the call with reporters. “It creates incentives for states to change their marijuana laws.”
While the House bill already has 12 Democratic cosponsors, no Republicans have signed onto either the Senate or House version.
Nationally, black people are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, even though the two groups consume cannabis at similar rates. In Oakland, 90 percent of cannabis arrests from 1995 to 2015 were people of color. (3/6)
— HuffPost (@HuffPost) January 18, 2018
The bill comes at a time when an anti-pot ideologue occupies the post of U.S. Attorney General. Jeff Sessions made headlines in early January when he rescinded Obama-era rules that deemphasized going after pot in states that have legalized it.
People in favor of legal pot are both conservative and liberal. A recent Gallup poll found that 64% of Americans, including 51% of Republicans, want recreational pot legal.
Featured image via Katherine Hitt/Flickr