In a recent interview with the Hell & High Water podcast published on April 14th, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said that President Joe Biden wouldn’t be an obstacle should Congress pass a federal cannabis legalization bill that he’s planning to introduce. The bill, which would enable every state to set up a tax-and-regulate system for the sale of cannabis products, wouldn’t require states to do so — which Booker claims is key to Biden’s support.
The President has long indicated that he is in favor of decriminalization, but not legalization. However, Booker believes that if the federal government de-lists cannabis from the controlled substances list, “you open up states that right now are not able to do a lot of things, to give way for what I want to achieve.”
While the specific text of the pending legalization legislation hasn’t yet been introduced by Sen. Booker, the bill is expected to include important provisions from past reform bills such as his own Marijuana Justice Act (MJA).
These provisions would incentivize states to adopt marijuana decriminalization at a minimum by withholding federal funds to states where cannabis criminalization is enforced disproportionately across racial lines. Further, he hopes that decriminalization would serve as a natural stepping stone towards legalization.
In a recent press conference, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Congress will move forward with marijuana legalization regardless of the president’s stance on the matter. “I support decriminalization at the federal level,” Schumer said. “And we’ll be introducing legislation with a few of my colleagues shortly.”
When pushed to clarify whether or not he supports legalization, Schumer responded, “decriminalization, legalization,” indicating that the two terms are being used interchangeably amidst legislative discussions.
The decriminalization/legalization bill is expected to be brought to the floor of the Senate chamber “soon.” Whether or not leading Democrats can count on the executive branch’s support remains to be seen, especially with Vice President Kamala Harris recently taking a step back on her stance of marijuana legalization.