WASHINGTON — Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, argued that cannabis use should be legal nationally and the criminal records of individuals convicted of “minor marijuana crimes” should be expunged.
“I am thrilled that cannabis companies in Massachusetts are now up and running because we’ve seen how these businesses can lift up local economies. Cannabis advocates all across the country have made a lot of progress so far but we cannot claim victory until we legalize marijuana at the federal level,” Warren said during her speech via video at the Cannabis Policy Summit on Friday.
“Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and I have taken one more step toward that goal by introducing the States Act. This is a bipartisan bill we put together to put the power to regulate cannabis out of the hands of the federal government and into the hands of the states,” she said.
“This legislation is plain old common sense. It would help state regulatory systems and cannabis businesses operate without the threat of DOJ interference and it would allow legitimate businesses to access the banking system,” she added.
Warren also touted the Marijuana Justice Act, which would “reschedule marijuana and expunge the criminal records of people who were convicted for minor marijuana crimes” and “let federal prisoners petition for release and create a fund to invest in communities that have been hurt by decades of discriminatory policing.”
Warren said that passing these two bills would be “a huge leap in the right direction but there is so much more to do” on marijuana policy.
“We need to open doors for women and people of color in the cannabis industry. we need to defend the rights of indigenous communities to use marijuana for cultural or medicinal reasons. We need to allow veterans to access medical cannabis through the VA system and we need to eliminate barriers to medical cannabis research,” Warren said.
“Smart, effective policy begins with big ideas that spark a conversation. Today’s summit is all about sharing those ideas and moving the conversation forward. We are laying the groundwork for transformational change in the years ahead,” she added.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he is “working on building” a coalition in support of decriminalizing recreational marijuana use at the federal level “until it reaches a critical mass.” He urged marijuana activists to continue voicing their support for legalization at the federal level.
“The federal government treats marijuana as though it’s as dangerous as heroin and more dangerous than cocaine. It’s hard to believe but it’s true. As a result, a staggering number of American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are African American and Latino, continue to be arrested for low-level drug offenses that most Americans agree should not be a crime,” Schumer said. “But we are living through a sea change on this issue.”