Thursday, August 18, 2022

Sen. Cory Booker Says He’s Optimistic About Federal Marijuana Decriminalization After Signaling Possible Compromise

“We have more and more state senators coming on to the major bill, and now more Republicans stepping up looking to help us perhaps land to compromise,” said Booker.

By Nina Zdinjak

Weeks after the long-awaited marijuana decriminalization Senate bill was presented, it has faced a lot of criticism, mostly for its complexity. Many industry experts, such as Cantor Fitzgerald’s Pablo Zuanic and Emily Paxhia, co-founder of one of the longest-running dedicated cannabis investment funds, Poseidon Asset Management agree that the chances of the bill passing the Senate are slim. The bill is called the Cannabis Administration And Opportunity Act (CAOA).

“There is too much packed into CAOA for this to get through, this was a Hail Mary bill put forth by Schumer and the supporting democrats,” Paxhia recently told Benzinga.

Chuck Schumer's Long-Awaited Federal Marijuana Legalization Bill Unveiled
Photo by Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images

Nevertheless, one of the bill’s leading sponsors, Senator Cory Booker, remains optimistic about seeing marijuana decriminalized at the federal level.  “I’m actually gaining enthusiasm,” Booker told Pix11 on Wednesday.

“We have more and more state senators coming on to the major bill, and now more Republicans stepping up looking to help us perhaps land to compromise.”

The statement came on the heels of Booker having revealed that he is open to compromise, signaling the possibility of his chamber passing a marijuana banking measure with certain social equity components, before taking action on the CAOA.

“I’m open to compromises that are going to achieve my goals of safety, of investment opportunities that are equal for business communities, and, finally, to make sure we do something for all of these people right now who have marijuana possession charges that deserve some relief from the impact that it’s having on their economic and family wellbeing,” Booker told NJ Spotlight News last week.

RELATED: Sen. Cory Booker Open To Passing Marijuana Banking First, With This Condition

Previously, Booker had opposed passage of the SAFE Banking Act on its own, out of concern that it did not deal with restorative justice. Hence the news of his shift to accepting a possible compromise came as a surprise to many. It could also signal a challenging fate for CAOA despite Booker’s apparent enthusiasm.

In addition to expressing his optimism about reform, the senator stressed the importance of pushing for cannabis legalization on the federal level.

“You know since I got here, this prohibition on marijuana has particularly hurt low-income minority communities,” Booker said. “They were more marijuana arrests in 2019 for possession, than there were all violent crime arrests combined. And so we are wasting so many resources. What we need to do is decriminalize this on a federal level.”

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.

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