U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer's longtime dream of federal cannabis legalization is one step closer to reality—thanks in part to fellow Oregonian U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden.
The two members of Oregon's congressional delegation now play key roles in the campaign by Democrats to end cannabis prohibition.
On Feb. 1, Wyden joined new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in announcing plans to issue a draft bill to legalize and regulate marijuana at the federal level. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) joined in the statement. All three called it a racial equity issue.
"The War on Drugs has been a war on people—particularly people of color. Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country. But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs," the three senators wrote.
The last time Schumer introduced a decriminalization bill he was Senate minority leader in 2018. Under then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), it went nowhere.
Blumenauer has found more success in the House, where he passed a bill decriminalizing cannabis last year. The co-founder and co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, Blumenauer expressed his excitement to work with the new Senate leadership on comprehensive cannabis legislation.
"We look forward to working with the Senate to refine the bill, advance its core principles, and end the federal prohibition of cannabis once and for all. The missing ingredient in cannabis reform has been Senate action," Blumenauer said Monday. "To finally have the active leadership of the new Senate majority leader, rather than being stuck in McConnell's legislative graveyard, makes all the difference in the world."