U.S. Senator Cory Booker has long been a proponent of decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana, saying when he was mayor of Newark in 2012 that he didn’t see why the criminal justice system was focused on punishing young people caught for possessing small amounts of weed.
So when President Joe Biden announced yesterday that he would pardon those convicted on federal possession charges, something New Jersey has already done on a state level, Booker was unsurprisingly supportive.
“The step was way overdue,” Booker said. “He fulfilled a campaign promise and ended the nightmare in America of thousands and thousands of people having criminal records for simple possession… [It’s] the end of the hypocrisy, the injustice.”
Booker added that Biden’s decision to begin the process of descheduling marijuana as a tightly controlled substance was another important move in the right direction.
“To say that marijuana is a greater level of severity than fentanyl, which is killing people in this country at alarming rates, is also something he understands we have to address,” Booker said. “So I’m just happy he’s taken this first step, and is looking to take others.”
Yesterday’s announcement was greeted with universal acclaim from congressional Democrats, most of whom agree with the nationally popular position that marijuana should be legal. Republicans, on the other hand, have largely remained silent, possibly in acknowledgement that opposing Biden’s move would be politically unpopular.
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Ringoes), who is running for re-election in New Jersey’s most competitive congressional district, agreed with Booker that decriminalization was the right move.
“I think this was a very, very strong step,” Malinowski said. “We have a lot of problems that require the attention of law enforcement… I want them focused on property crime, on violent crime – not on chasing around kids who may be smoking marijuana.”