NJ: Sen. Cory Booker Holds Kickoff Rally To Legalize Marijuana Nationwide

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Ron Strider

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Dozens of supporters for U.S. Sen. Cory Booker's proposed bill to legalize marijuana nationwide joined him in a kickoff rally on the steps of city hall Friday.

Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act this week, a federal effort that would remove the drug from the list of controlled substances and allow people serving time in jail for marijuana-related offenses to be resentenced. It would also expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes.

As part of his "Jersey Summer Road Trip," the senator stopped in Union County to deliver a speech to advocates of his bill.

He was joined by Sen. Nicholas Scutari, who has supported proposed state legislation to legalize marijuana. Representatives from the Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the NAACP New Jersey conference, and ACLU — New Jersey touted the bill as one that would have economic benefits and reform the criminal justice system.

The drug war is a "very personal issue" for the senator, he said, because he lives in Newark, an inner-city that's "overwhelmingly" black and Latino.

"I walk out my front door and I see the problem with the drug war," Booker said. "It's been a war on low-income people and disproportionately a war on minorities."

He likened drug war to the prohibition on alcohol.

"When we legalized alcohol and regulated it, it brought in revenue and helped us control that very dangerous substance," he said.

When asked for his response to Gov. Chris Christie's comments that the efforts to legalize the drug are "beyond stupidity," Booker said it's the wrong message.

"The wrong message is that you destroy entire neighborhoods by arresting tens of thousands of people for marijuana use while governors and presidents openly admit that they used the same drug and just didn't get caught," Booker said.

Although the bill has bipartisan support, it faces great hurdles in the GOP-controlled Congress. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has started rolling back Obama-era policies that aimed to give more leeway to drug offenders.

"I don't care who's in office. Now is always the right time to do what is right," Booker said.

Moments before Booker took to the podium, a man who dropped a vile of medical marijuana on the sidewalk in front of city hall was arrested. Linden police said he was arrested for disorderly conduct and released on his own recognizance shortly after.



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Full Article: Sen. Cory Booker holds kickoff rally to legalize marijuana nationwide
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