We need marijuana policy reform today.

 Today, marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in 33 states and for recreational purposes in 11 of them. This year, because of increased public support, marijuana is a key ballot initiative in multiple states.

However, since 1970, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act, attributing it to the likes of LSD and heroin.

The impact of this classification has been detrimental for researchers to study its effects and potential impacts on different populations. As marijuana is legalized for medical and recreational use across the country, it is vital that we fully comprehend the effects.

The most comprehensive evidence for medical marijuana relates to its ability to reduce chronic pain, nausea, and vomiting due chemotherapy and its ability to relieve tight or stiff muscles for people with MS. To fully understand the benefits and risks associated with marijuana, we must reclassify it under the Controlled Substances Act.

Despite the fact that people in the United States use marijuana at the same rate across demographics, the decriminalization of marijuana is a racial justice issue.

Many communities of color bear the disproportionate impact of the War on Drugs – leading to disparities in arrests and incarceration rates for these communities. A Black person is almost 4x more likely than a white person to be arrested for marijuana possession nationwide.

Reforming our country’s marijuana policies is about more than its medical benefits, or the income that can be generated from taxing it. It’s about righting the wrongs of past enforcement of marijuana laws. Legalizing marijuana in any capacity requires thoughtful research and concern for how overcriminalization and the War on Drugs has impacted communities of color.

That’s why, in Congress, I’ll support:

  • Legislation like the MORE Act (HR 3884), which would decriminalize marijuana and remove it from the federal list of controlled substances.
  • Passing legislation that legalizes marijuana for medicinal purposes
  • Expunging records of those who were incarcerated for an ounce or less.
  • Reinvesting in communities that have been adversely impacted by the War on Drugs

Marijuana policy reform in Tennessee is long overdue. From expunging the records of those with non-violent marijuana charges, to legalizing it for medical purposes – Congress needs to take action today & enact sensible marijuana policies.