BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Immediate federal marijuana legalization and reform? Massachusetts Senator and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren announced on Sunday that she has a plan for that.
Ahead of a campaign event in Denver on Sunday afternoon, Warren unveiled her plan entitled A Just And Equitable Cannabis Industry. In the six-page document, Warren proposes using executive authority to start federal cannabis legalization within her first 100 days in office.
"We have an opportunity now to get this right, and I'll fight to make that happen," Warren said.
She promised to immediately reinstate the Cole Memo, which was designed to protect state-legal cannabis markets from the Department of Justice, but was rescinded by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2018.
Warren said she would appoint leaders of the Department of Justice, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy who support her criminal justice agenda. She also said she would reduce federal funding to states that refuse cannabis legalization.
Warren's plan would include passing California Senator Kamala Harris' bill, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which Warren sponsors. It focuses heavily on expunging past minor marijuana convictions. Warren is also the lead sponsor of the STATES Act, which would give more protection from federal intervention to states with current legal marijuana markets.
The bills Warren wants to pass would completely remove marijuana from the list of federally scheduled substances, which legalizes the plant. But that's not all she wants to do. Her plan also aims to give a head start in the industry to people disproportionately harmed by the War on Drugs.
Warren's path to reform would involve another cannabis-focused bill that she sponsors, the Marijuana Justice Act, which was introduced by New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. That legislation would create a fund of at least $500 million annually that would go to repairing the damage done to communities unjustly targeted by marijuana enforcement.
(According to the ACLU, black people are almost four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis offenses than white people, although data shows there is little difference in the rates of use between races.)
Then there is the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, which would create a fund to help women and minority-owned marijuana businesses, and would be funded from current marijuana industry revenues.
Warren's plan even discusses the impact cannabis legalization could have on the U.S. opioid epidemic; "Serious research into the potential benefits and drawbacks of medical marijuana is largely blocked by outdated federal laws and policies."
Warren's plan would also protect immigrants working in the cannabis industry. She said that's an important addition to the proposal, after the Trump Administration's 2019 announcement that any involvement in marijuana would likely get their citizenship application denied.
Her plan promotes unionization for cannabis industry workers, and it aims to protect the authority of Indian tribes to enact their own cannabis reform measures. It also calls for regulations that will "preserve market access and competition" and keep "Big Tobacco" from dominating the industry.