The Slatest

Chuck Schumer Will Unveil a Marijuana Decriminalization Bill on Friday—Which, Yes, Is 4/20

Chuck Schumer and a bunch of marijuana.
Chuck Schumer; the dank chronic.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, WeedPornDaily.Com/Flickr CC

In a major development for the movement to reform drug laws, Chuck Schumer tells Vice News Tonight (yes, “Vice”) that he will be introducing a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level—a bill that his spokesman says will be introduced Friday (yes, 4/20). Here’s the news show’s preview clip:

Slate’s Osita Nwanevu wrote in January about the Democratic Party’s increasing embrace of marijuana reform, which has been especially acute among potential 2020 presidential candidates:

Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, introduced in July, would not only legalize pot but also allow resentencing and record expungement for those convicted of federal marijuana offenses, cut law enforcement funding from states that disproportionately arrest and imprison minorities for marijuana offenses, and allocate $500 million for reinvestment in communities impacted by the war on drugs. Bernie Sanders, who might also run in 2020, supports descheduling marijuana and allowing states to set policy. Then there’s Kirsten Gillibrand, a co-sponsor with Booker of the CARERS Act, which would protect medical marijuana operations from federal intervention and facilitate marijuana research. She responded to [attorney general Jeff Sessions’ threats against legal marijuana initiatives] with tweets focusing mostly on medical marijuana patients, as did Elizabeth Warren, who has co-sponsored a bill that would allow banks to service marijuana businesses without federal intervention. Kamala Harris, who called for the decriminalization of marijuana last year defended her state, which began legal recreational sales just this week. “Jeff Sessions should drop his agenda to re-escalate the complete failure that was the ‘War on Drugs’ and leave California alone,” her tweet read.

Last week, former (Republican) Speaker of the House John Boehner announced that he supports decriminalization and had joined the board of a legal-marijuana investment firm. Now the Democrats’ highest-ranking senator has joined the effort as well. Per Vice, Schumer’s proposal would deschedule the drug, encourage “minority and women-owned marijuana businesses,” fund research into impaired driving, and give the federal government the right to regulate marijuana advertising.

Also, he signed a bong:

Incidentally, according to High Times, the association between the number “420” and gettin’ high began when five high school kids in California met at 4:20 p.m. to look for a mythical abandoned crop of marijuana plants (using a treasure map!) in 1971. The more you know!