Gillibrand, Nadler call on AG Garland, DEA to scrap federal laws targeting weed

Metro


US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called on the Biden administration to ease up the federal prohibition on weed Sunday – arguing the current laws dating back to the 1970s have “torn apart” too many lives.

The New York Democrat, along with Rep. Jerry Nadler and several state lawmakers, urged Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Drug Enforcement Administration to deschedule cannabis on a national level, pointing out that the drug is right now in the same classification as heroin and is in a more dangerous category than fentanyl and cocaine.

“I think it’s clear: It’s time to legalize marijuana and expunge nonviolent marijuana convictions,” Gillibrand said during a press conference Sunday afternoon in Harlem.

She said she plans on sending a new letter about the issue to the Department of Justice and the DEA on Monday in hopes it’ll “turn up the heat.”

“I’ve been pushing this now for four years, and there’s no excuses left,” Gillibrand insisted.

“The drug was classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance in the 1970s as part of President Nixon’s punitive war on drugs,” she added.

“Since then, countless lives have been torn apart as individuals and primarily black and brown communities have been targeted and arrested for nonviolence, cannabis-related offenses.”

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand called on the Biden administration to ease up the federal prohibition on weed. Kevin C. Downs for NY Post

Nadler, a Manhattan Democrat, also said the “original sin” was placing weed in the Schedule 1 category with drugs like heroin “where it obviously did not belong.”

“No one should have to wear a cannabis conviction like a scarlet letter,” Nadler said. “It is time to end the prohibition and criminalization of marijuana at the federal level.”

Gillibrand told The Post that because it’s scheduled the same way as dangerously addictive drugs, cannabis can’t be used medically on the federal level, including at Veterans Affair even though it’s “one of the best medicines for PTSD for our service members.”

“We’ve had the scourge of fentanyl and opioids on Long Island and across New York state to great detriment, [with] many young people dying. And that is not the impact of cannabis,” she said.

She also argued legalizing cannabis would lead to economic growth, noting other countries like Canada have legalized the drug.

“And if our markets, our proprietors who are selling cannabis cannot compete with Canada, cannot compete with other states, it means our business from New York goes abroad or goes to other markets,” Gillibrand said. “And it’s really harming our business owners here in New York City and in New York state.”

President Biden late last year wiped clean the criminal records of thousands of people who were convicted of use or simple possession of marijuana either federally or in DC. He also granted a similar slew of pardons in 2022 leading up to midterm elections.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, a Manhattan Democrat, also said the “original sin” was placing weed in the Schedule 1 category with drugs like heroin “where it obviously did not belong.” AP
Attorney General Merrick Garland is facing pressure to deschedule cannabis on a national level. REUTERS

But New York lawmakers want the White House to go further.

State Sen. Cordell Cleare, a Harlem Democrat, told The Post decriminalizing weed will lead to safer use.

“This is a way to allow the most-harmed communities to participate in the economic opportunities that will come from this. It will create jobs and employment in the workforce. Those are the things that I think people need to know.”




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