The data proves it. Though marijuana use is roughly the same between Blacks and whites, Blacks are nearly 4 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. For New York, the state in which Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and Senator Chuck Schumer hail from, the disparities between the communities is far greater.
On Thursday, the two Democratic leaders re-introduced the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, legislation that would remove cannabis from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act.
“For far too long, the impact of America’s repressive, archaic marijuana laws has been felt most heavily by people of color,” said Jeffries, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, in a statement announcing the reestablishment of the legislation. “This critical effort works to correct that injustice by providing $100 million toward expungement programs and creating an investment fund for people of color and female entrepreneurs who wish to enter the lucrative legal cannabis industry. Senator Schumer should be commended for his stalwart leadership in this regard.”
Schumer first introduced the legislation last year. If passed, the measure would effectively decriminalize the use of marijuana at the federal level as well as authorize money to go towards safety and public health research, and grants to encourage local government to expunge or seal the records of those unfairly affected by antiquated marijuana laws.
Of the measure, Senate Minority Leader Schumer says, “It’s time to decriminalize marijuana, and this bill is a critical first step.”