Sen. Cory Booker (NJ-D) continues to try ways that might break him out from the pack in a crowded Democratic presidential primary, and one of those ways is promising serious cannabis reform if he was elected into office. Booker, who’s also been a leader in criminal justice reform overall, announced during a CNN town hall Wednesday that he’d “absolutely consider mass pardons for marijuana offense.
“The War on Drugs has been a war on people,” he said.
“There is no difference in America between using and even selling marijuana between blacks and whites. But if you’re African-American in this country, you’re almost four times more likely to be arrested for that,” Booker added. “And by the way, when you get arrested for marijuana in this country, it is like getting a lifetime sentence… you can’t get a business license. You can’t get jobs. You can’t get a loan from a bank. It’s like a lifetime sentence, compressing your economic well-being.”
Booker also noted the hypocrisy in such policy around marijuana, being that it’s something two out of the past three presidents have admitted consuming. He explained that a desire to tip the scales in a more balanced favor for American, especially those in black and brown communities, is why he re-introduced his Marijuana Justice Act legislation, which would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances list, earlier this month.
But Booker emphasized that even if the measure was successful that his efforts wouldn’t stop there.
“I’m hoping all of us, when we talk about marijuana legalization or decriminalization, in the same breath, we’ve got to talk about expunging the records of everyone who is still suffering,” he said.
When CNN host Don Lemon asked Booker directly if that meant considering mass pardons and commutations for those with marijuana offenses, the senator responded affirmatively.
Absolutely,” Booker said. “One of my focuses as president of the United States will be to balancing the scales of justice and having a criminal justice system that reflects our highest ideals.”
You can watch the full clip below.
Cory Booker says he "absolutely” would consider mass commutations and pardons for federal marijuana offenses if he were to become president. #BookerTownHall https://t.co/8If7Lkd89C pic.twitter.com/DGyHbMtlwb
— CNN (@CNN) March 28, 2019