Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is giving Congress’s “smoke-filled room” a whole new meaning as he champions national marijuana legalization — with or without the support of a reluctant President Joe Biden.
“He said he’s studying the issue, so [I] obviously want to give him a little time,” Schumer told Politico Saturday. “But at some point [the Senate is] going to move forward, period.”
Schumer, who endorsed the weed reform plans of Democratic Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon last month, plans to throw the considerable weight of his office behind their legislation.
“Probably the most important power of the majority leader is the ability to put bills on the floor,” he said.
Previous efforts to loosen federal pot restrictions went nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate, Schumer noted — letting anti-legalization legislators off the hook, even as 16 states began to allow recreational use of the drug.
More than two-thirds of Americans support marijuana legalization, according to a recent Gallup poll — including about half of Republican voters.
“Their senators were never challenged,” Schumer said. “The fact that people will know that there will be a vote on this sooner or later — that’s the big difference.”
It was the “exultant” response of toking voters in states like Colorado and Oregon, Schumer said, that mellowed him out on the idea of legalization.
“People had freedom to do what they wanted to do, as long as they weren’t hurting other people,” he said.
“That’s part of what America is about. And they were exultant in it.”