On February 28, New Jersey senator Cory Booker introduced legislation that would make marijuana legal throughout the United States. (The bill was co-sponsored by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand, who are all competing, along with Cory Booker, for the Democratic nomination to the White House in 2020.) Booker gave an interview to Buzzfeed’s AM to DM in which he explained why he favors legalizing the drug — even though, he said, he’s never actually smoked marijuana himself.
You can watch Booker explain why he favors legalizing marijuana here:
Booker talked about the impact that tough sentencing and “over-incarceration” have had on poor and minority communities, arguing that low-income people and minorities have been devastated by the “war on drugs.” He called for “restorative justice” to help people repair the damage caused by harsh jail sentences. He said:
“I think we’re calling people to be about justice, not just about adult use, which I support. Medical Marijuana, I support. But to do that and not correct what has been bigoted, and a drug war that’s been a war on people that over-incarcerated the poor, over-incarcerated minorities and veterans. We need to be about restorative justice and that means reinvesting in communities that have been hurt by the war on drugs. It means expunging the records of people who have been unjustly convicted for doing things that two of the last three presidents have admitted to doing. This is a bill about reinvesting in communities hurt and harmed. It’s about giving people who have been targeted by the drug war a chance to truly find restorative justice and redemption.”
Booker Said His Parents ‘Schooled’ Him to Never Try Drugs Himself
Booker admitted to Buzzfeed that he, himself, has never used marijuana — because, he said, his parents were strict disciplinarians who feared that as a black youth, he might not get fair treatment from the justice system if he slipped up in any way. Booker said:
“Look, I grew up with two parents who were really concerned that their young black kids were going to encounter a justice system that they knew was not fair. So from the earliest ages, I was just schooled by my parents. They said you’re an athlete, you have so much going for you, your margins for doing things that are illegal are a lot thinner. And I feel that and I’ve seen that. I got very disciplined very quick, and I didn’t want to put any variables in the equation of my life. But I’ve become the strongest advocate for these issues and I will continue to fight to bring justice to our criminal justice system. We have to have massive change and that’s why I’m a massive leader of criminal justice reform in the United States Senate and United States Congress.”
You can watch the full interview here.