Democrats push toward legalizing marijuana at the federal level

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – There are new details about a new push to legalize marijuana at the federal level.

This year, New Yorkers voted to legalize recreational pot sales, joining scores of other states. Now, Democrats in the U.S. Senate are hoping to capitalize on this green rush.

For years now, state after state has given the green light to the cannabis industry. But now is perhaps the biggest pot push yet.

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said, “There is an urgency to this because there are people all over our country who’ve seen their lives destroyed or hurt.”

Wednesday, Senate Democrats rolled out a draft of their plan to try to legalize marijuana at the federal level. First obtained exclusively by NBC News it calls for the following:

  • Removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act
  • Expunging federal records of non-violent cannabis offenders
  • Setting up regulations to tax pot products

Working on weed are Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, Chair of the Finance Committee.

Wyden said, “We legalized in… adult use in 2014. And, oh my goodness, the skeptics said that Western civilization was gonna pretty much end. What we have seen in terms of the actual facts is we’ve generated more than six times the predicted revenue.”

Senator Schumer said legalization is one of the top priorities for Democrats.

Critics say the marijuana industry has been growing too fast and is marketing high-potency pot to kids.

Supporters of federal legalization argue communities of color are still disproportionately incarcerated for a drug already legal in many states.

18 states plus Washington, D.C. allow recreational pot use. Over 37 allow medical marijuana.

What has changed dramatically is Americans’ views on weed. Back in 1969, only 12 percent backed marijuana legalization. Now, 68 percent do.

Still, Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans votes to break a filibuster and some within their own party have not signed on. So it may be a while before the smoke clears.

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