Marijuana

 
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California has been a national leader on marijuana policy, proving that cannabis can be legalized in a just, safe, and profitable way. Our state recognizes that a drug significantly less lethal than alcohol or tobacco should not be treated the same way as heroin,[1] and it’s high time the federal government does, too.

We need leadership in Washington that will push for real marijuana reform like Proposition 64, instead of fomenting unfounded fears about cartels and our kids. It’s time to cut a path toward progress and support proposals for comprehensive marijuana legalization like Senator Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act.[2] Marijuana should no longer be a Schedule 1 drug. States should no longer have to miss out on important revenue and reform opportunities, and Americans of color should no longer be deprived of their freedom because of outdated federal policy.

 

 
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Mending a broken criminal justice system

Marijuana accounts for more than half of drug arrests in the United States,[3] with roughly 600,000 people being charged with marijuana law violations in 2016.[4] It’s no secret that despite nearly equal usage rates, black people are almost 4 times as likely as white people to be arrested for marijuana-related crimes.[5]

 

It’s time to end this unjust practice, and correct the deep-rooted racial disparities in our criminal justice system. People should not be put behind bars for simply possessing marijuana, and taxpayer resources should not be wasted on the incarceration of nonviolent offenders. If we want a government that will truly improve the human condition of all, the rest of the United States should join California in pushing for racial justice and reforming our broken marijuana laws.

 

Providing medical benefits

Medical marijuana has helped veterans in California and other states around the country find relief for chronic pain and post-combat stress disorders.[6] It has also helped seniors deal with chronic pain or loss of appetite,[7] and been used to treat conditions like fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s, and much more.[8] Additionally, there have been studies that suggest marijuana legalization can significantly decrease use of opioids and other prescription drugs by acting as a substitute for pain treatment – making marijuana a crucial opioid alternative, and a possible check on the devastating increase in opioid abuse.[9]

That’s why I have backed medical marijuana in California, by supporting three bills to legitimize state-licensed medical marijuana businesses, backing legislation to stop discrimination against medical marijuana patients in organ transplants, and ending tax penalties that hurt marijuana businesses.[10]

 

Boosting state budgets

California made $60.9M in cannabis tax revenue during 2018’s first quarter,[11] and Governor Brown estimated that the state will receive a total of $643 million in revenue from excise taxes on marijuana during its first year of legalization.[12] That revenue could fund critical programs related to protecting California’s environment, improving our education system, expanding law enforcement resources, and building an economy that works for all of us.[13]

States around the country have used revenue from marijuana legalization to fund vital community programs and services. In a time when many states are facing their own budget crises, federal prohibition shouldn’t be the factor that sends them toward bankruptcy.

 

[1] “Comparative risk assessment of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis and other illicit drugs using the margin of exposure approach,” Dirk Lachenmeier and Jurgen Rehm, Scientific Reports, 1/30/2015

[2] “Marijuana delivery to all of California? Measure would expand access,” Taryn Luna, The Sacramento Bee, 5/2/2018

[3] “MARIJUANA ARRESTS BY THE NUMBERS,” American Civil Liberties Union, no date

[4] “Drug War Statistics,” Drug Policy Alliance, no date

[5] “MARIJUANA ARRESTS BY THE NUMBERS,” American Civil Liberties Union, no date

[6] “Should veterans be allowed to use medical marijuana for post-combat stress? The Trump administration says no,” David Cloud, Los Angeles Times, 2/9/2018

[7] “How Seniors Joined the Cannabis Craze,” Sara Davidson, The New Yorker, 4/20/2018

[8] “Medical Marijuana for Older Adults,” Lisa Esposito, U.S. News, 3/16/2018

[9] “Opioid Use Lower In States That Eased Marijuana Laws,” Richard Harris, National Public Radio, 4/2/2018

[10] “In California, Feinstein Challenger De León Seen as a Cannabis Progressive,” Peter Hecht, Leafly, 10/17/2017

[11] “California Made $60.9M in Cannabis Tax Revenue for First Quarter of 2018,” NBC Bay Area, 5/14/2018

[12] “California could see a $643-million marijuana tax haul in first full year of legalization, Gov. Jerry Brown says,” Patrick McGreevy, Los Angeles Times, 1/1/2018

[13] “Submission of Amendment to Statewide Initiative Measure - Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act, No. 15-0103,” Olson Hagel and Fishburn LLP, 12/07/2015