In 2012, Colorado became one of the first states in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults after voters approved Amendment 64. As Governor, our administration set a course to make Colorado the gold standard of marijuana legalization. Marijuana sales have helped to fund educational opportunities for kids, helped us to repair rural schools across Colorado, and created entrepreneurship opportunities where there used to be black markets.
Despite Colorado’s actions, cannabis entrepreneurs and consumers still know the risk of current federal policies. Because of its classification as a Schedule I drug, cannabis businesses don’t have access to banking services. Our tax code penalizes marijuana businesses by not allowing them access to the same resources and tax benefits every other business has access to. Attempts to change these policies have grown from hushed whispers in the halls of Congress to loud pleas from Colorado business owners and consumers. Senator Gardner has failed to pass meaningful reform legislation in his own Republican-led Senate, and despite his supportive words, observers don’t believe we will actually pass meaningful reform until Democrats regain a Senate majority.
If you can believe it, the federal government treats marijuana the same way it does heroin. As U.S. Senator, I will fight to remove cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug. This would enable the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health researchers to study and research marijuana’s potential medical uses.
The road to passing legislation that supports cannabis entrepreneurs and decriminalizes marijuana runs through Colorado. My experience navigating marijuana legalization right here in Colorado will help me bring people together and finally effect change in Washington.
We know that African American men have been disproportionately imprisoned for nonviolent marijuana crimes. That’s one of the many reasons why I believe we must decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, with the flexibility for states to determine whether or not to legalize it. We should not be putting people in jail for nonviolent marijuana crimes, and we must give other states the opportunity that Colorado had to create their own regulatory structure that works for their communities.