Sen. Chuck Schumer, known as one of the most vocal supporters of the War on Drugs, has just signed his name to a Senate medical marijuana bill which would reschedule the drug.
The legislation, called the Carers Act, was introduced by Democratic Sen. Cory Booker in March and quickly gained support from Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as GOP Sen. Rand Paul, among other legislators from both sides of the aisle.
In effect, the bill would reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, which would mean a recognition that marijuana has medicinal value.
The bill also seeks to allow banks to provide financial services to marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized cannabis. In those states, veterans would be allowed to access medical marijuana instead of relying solely on opioids as medication. The federal government would be barred from cracking down on medical marijuana operations. (RELATED: Senators Unveil Bill To Legalize Federal Medical Marijuana)
In the past, Schumer has supported the right of states to legalize marijuana in order to function as “laboratories” of policy.
“The view I have, and I’m a little cautious on this, is let’s see how the state experiments work,” Schumer said on MSNBC in January 2014, according to The Huffington Post.
But Schumer also has a long history of supporting the War on Drugs. As recently as last year, Schumer urged the Department of Justice to conduct a review of drug trafficking on mediums like Silk Road, a drug market online, which allowed users anonymity.
In April, Schumer requested that the President’s Office of National Drug Control Policy label Broome County a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), in accordance with climbing rates of heroin and meth use. Declaring the region a HIDTA would result in further federal investment and resources to combat drug trafficking. The fact that Schumer has signed onto the medical marijuana bill is a major sign of change, according to marijuana advocates.
“This is one of the clearest signs yet that the decades-long Congressional consensus on maintaining the war on drugs is quickly crumbling,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“For such a long time, it seemed that Sen. Schumer never saw a harsh drug law he didn’t love. But now, this longtime drug warrior has signed his name onto a bill to demolish many of the most important policies undergirding federal marijuana prohibition.”
A recent poll from Pew Research places country-wide support for legalizing marijuana at 53 percent. When broken down further by age, the poll indicates that 68 percent of millennials support legalization.