Merkley, Wyden, Join Fellow Senators In Push To End Federal Ban On Cannabis

May 24, 2018

A bill to end the federal prohibition of marijuana is gaining supporters in the U.S. Senate, including two lawmakers from Oregon.

Credit Keeping It Tropical / Flickr.com

Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are backing Senator Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act.  It aims to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, legalizing it at the federal level.

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
Credit Congress.gov

Merkley says currently, nearly 40 states have legalized medical or recreational cannabis. Conflicting with federal law has affected banking as well as driving up prosecution of non-violent crimes. Merkley says this is causing some racial disparity.

“Nationally, where use levels are very similar between different ethnic groups, African-Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, as compared to Caucasian-Americans. 

"And that leads to a much higher incarceration rate as well.”

Merkley says backers are working to get more support for the bill, in hopes of shuttling it through the Senate sometime next session.

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