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Merkley, Wyden, Join Fellow Senators In Push To End Federal Ban On Cannabis

Keeping It Tropical

A bill to end the federal prohibition of marijuana is gaining supporters in the U.S. Senate, including two lawmakers from Oregon.

Democrats Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are backing Senator Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act.  It aims to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances, legalizing it at the federal level.

Credit Congress.gov
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Merkley says currently, nearly 40 states have legalized medical or recreational cannabis. Conflicting with federal law has affected banking as well as driving up prosecution of non-violent crimes. Merkley says this is causing some racial disparity.

“Nationally, where use levels are very similar between different ethnic groups, African-Americans are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession, as compared to Caucasian-Americans. 

"And that leads to a much higher incarceration rate as well.”

Merkley says backers are working to get more support for the bill, in hopes of shuttling it through the Senate sometime next session.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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