Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is walking a tightrope between reformers and Republicans with his legalization legislation, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA). A 163-page draft and summary were released on July 14. The bill is summarized here with five key proposals.
On July 22, Schumer took a question from Sunny Hostin on The View about the push for legalization on the federal level. Schumer, Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, all Democrats, are co-sponsors of CAOA, which would effectively end prohibition. Watch the clip below.
Hostin: It's significant I think as Majority Leader you are supporting efforts to decriminalize marijuana on the federal level - even introducing draft legislation. Are you getting bi-partisan support from your Senate colleagues, which I understand you will need? And why is this so important to you?
Schumer: First, it's freedom. When marijuana was first legalized in a few of the Western states - Oregon, Colorado - everyone said there would be a lot of harm. Drug use would go up, crime would go up - neither happened, so that makes sense. Marijuana has been so overcriminalized at the federal level. It's treated like heroin or cocaine - very much more serious drugs. And even worse, a young person who has a small amount of marijuana in their pocket can get arrested and have a serious criminal record as if they were selling a whole lot of heroin. They can almost never recover. It's hard to get a job, credit ratings change, housing, etc.
"I think we will get this done because it's so, so overwhelmingly supported by the American people."
So, first we want to legalize it to make sure that people who want to use it can use it without this overcriminalization. Second, we want to expunge records of people that had a small amount of marijuana in their pockets, which hurt the rest of their lives. We'd like them to be productive citizens.
Can we pass it? Yes! This is a place where the public is way ahead of the Congress. South Dakota put it on the ballot. They're hardly a liberal state. And a majority of people voted to legalize it. Seventy-five percent of America is for legalization. So, Senators Booker, Wyden and I put in a draft bill. We're now going around to our colleagues saying, Would you sign onto the bill? And if you don't like something in the bill and would like some modifications, tell us. I want to get this done. And I think we will get this done because it's so, so overwhelmingly supported by the American people.
Whoopi Goldberg: Yeah!
Schumer: That was a Whoopi yeah I think.
Whoopi: That was me.