(202) 224-2742
United States Senate


April 20, 2018


Dear Philip:
Thank you for contacting me about the Marijuana Justice Act. I appreciate hearing from you on this important matter.
In August 2017, Senator Cory Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017. This bill seeks to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances maintained by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, so that possession of marijuana is no longer a punishable federal offense. The bill also addresses the disproportionate harm that strict sentencing laws and mass incarceration for marijuana crimes have had on low-income people and people of color. These are significant issues.  Massachusetts has been a leader on them, as the number of marijuana-related arrests in the Commonwealth have plummeted since 2016 when recreational use of marijuana was decriminalized and then legalized. Despite this progress, there is still room for improvement, as an examination of arrest records across the state reveals that minorities are arrested for marijuana-related crimes at significantly higher rates than white people. As states continue to legalize recreational marijuana use, we must have a national conversation about legalization at the federal level and the disparity in how these laws affect people depending on race and income.
In March 2017, I joined eight other Senators in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions calling on him to immediately ensure that the Department of Justice would respect the ability of states that have implemented marijuana legalization policies to enforce them in ways that do not threaten the public’s health and safety. I will be closely monitoring the developments in the Marijuana Justice Act as it moves through the Senate. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary for further consideration.
Thank you again for contacting me about this issue. If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. To sign up for my newsletter, visithttp://www.markey.senate.gov/newsletter. You can also follow me on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.


Edward J. Markey
United States Senator