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U.S. Senator Wants To Legalize Cannabis And Regulate It Like Tobacco

A new bill filed by Sen. Tina Smith of Minnesota would end marijuana prohibition, which she called a failed policy that leads to racist over policing

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A new bill filed by a Democratic senator from Minnesota would end marijuana prohibition across the United States and set up a system that regulates cannabis like alcohol or tobacco.

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The bill from Sen. Tina Smith, the Substance Regulation and Safety Act of 2020, calls for placing the federal Food and Drug Administration in charge of regulating a nationwide, legal cannabis industry. Under current law, cannabis is a Schedule I illegal drug on par with cocaine and heroin

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In a Facebook post, Smith talked about her reasons for proposing the bill. She called marijuana prohibition a failed policy. She also noted that “the public overwhelmingly supports legalization” and that 42 states and the District of Columbia “all allow some degree of marijuana use.”

“If we legalize, we need to do it the right way,” Smith said in the post. “In addition to passing U.S. Senator Kamala Harris’s MORE Act to expunge marijuana-related convictions and reinvest in communities harmed by the War on Drugs, we need to ensure legal marijuana is safe, regulated, and well-researched.”

She wrote that “just like with alcohol and tobacco, we need to put the FDA in charge of regulating labeling and advertising.”

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The bill also creates quality control standards for cannabis and promotes research.

Smith also wants to create a national strategy for addressing the abuse of marijuana by underage users. The bill establishes the legal age to purchase and consume marijuana at 21.

Her bill calls for the creation of safety and quality control standards for growing marijuana. And she wants to fund more research into finding a scientific standard for detecting cannabis-impaired driving “while preventing a repeat of the racist enforcement patterns of The War on Drugs.”

That’s a lot of ground, but Smith’s bill attempts to address every major aspect of making weed legal nationwide. However, the focus goes beyond just the practical issues.

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Calls for an end to the racial injustice of the War on Drugs.

Much like Harris and Sen. Cory Booker, who also has authored a cannabis legalization bill, a need to end the injustices of the War on Drugs motivated Smith to create the Substance Regulation and Safety Act of 2020.

“The federal prohibition on marijuana is a failed policy that contributes to mass incarceration and the racist over-policing of communities of color. It is time to end that policy,” Smith said in a news release about the bill.

Statistics back up this opinion about how law enforcement applies drug laws in the real world. A recent study from the ACLU found that nationwide, Black people are 3.6 times more likely to get arrested on marijuana charges than white people. The study also found that police are more likely to arrest Black people in all 50 states.

“The war on people who use marijuana is still wreaking havoc in much of the U.S., particularly against people of color,” the ACLU wrote in the study.

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