Tag Archives: cory booker

Federal Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill To Be Introduced By Senators Paul, Booker And Gillibrand

A Senate bill to legalize medical marijuana at the federal level is expected to be introduced on Tuesday by Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). This bill is reportedly the first time that the Senate would contemplate legalizing medical marijuana.

“It really is a comprehensive bill- it would effectively end the federal war on medical marijuana,” said Tom Angell, the chairman of marijuana advocacy organization Marijuana Majority.

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act proposes substantial changes to federal medical marijuana law. The CARERS Act would reclassify marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 2 drug, which would compel the federal government to acknowledge that marijuana has potential medical benefits. The bill would also omit the non-psychoactive medicinal compound of marijuana, CBD, from the definition of marijuana. 

A Senate aide told Vox that this bill would prohibit the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and other agencies from overruling medical marijuana laws that have been enacted by states. According to Vox, the bill would also call upon the attorney general to provide at least three licenses to FDA-approved research agencies for marijuana research, and would further ease marijuana research restrictions by removing the Public Health Service review currently required for independent researchers conducting medical marijuana studies.

Matt Simon, the New England Political Director and Legislative Analyst of the Marijuana Policy Project, told BenSwann.com that “It’s refreshing to see this bipartisan group of senators working together on a bill that could bring great relief to countless patients and their families. Medical marijuana is already legal in the District of Columbia and in 23 states, and there’s no good reason it shouldn’t be legal everywhere else.”

The bill has been criticized by the University of Florida Drug Policy Institute’s director, Dr. Kevin Sabel. “It’s like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” said Sabel, according to the Washington Post. “Why not start work with scientists to incentivize research rather than open the floodgates to Big Marijuana? Most major medical organizations oppose smoked pot as medicine because the risks outweigh any benefits. This bill just isn’t supported by the science, plain and simple.”

The comprehensive CARERS Act is not the first time Senators Booker and Paul have joined together to push for reform. Last July the two senators introduced a criminal justice reform bill called the REDEEM Act. The REDEEM Act proposed expunging the criminal records of low-level and non-violent offenders and minors, and encouraged states to raise the criminal responsibility age to over 18. The bill was re-introduced on Monday.

A press conference is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday to discuss the proposed CARERS Act.

Rand Paul On MSNBC: “When Your Network Does 24 Hour News Telling The Truth, Maybe We Can Get Somewhere”

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) recently came together to introduce legislation that would reform the criminal justice system to allow non-violent offenders a chance to resume a normal life after incarceration. The REDEEM Act would reform current laws to seal the records of nonviolent juvenile and low-level offenders to allow for them to transition to gainful employment without carrying the burden of a criminal record.

Paul and Booker went on the MSNBC program “The Cycle” to discuss the problems with the criminal justice system and providing examples of how current laws impede the efforts of a nonviolent convict trying to lead a better life.

Later on in the program, host Ari Melber spoke about Paul “evolving” on his position on the Civil Rights Act, a topic Paul had discussed with Rachel Maddow in 2010. Melber shifted the conversation to that discussion between Paul and Maddow:  “As we’re talking about restoring civil rights here, you stirred up a lot of controversy with the 2010 comments.”

“Me? Controversy?” Paul replied.

“You said at the time that you had concerns about the rules for private business while you support most of the Civil Rights Act. Why did you evolve on rules for private business?” Melber asked Paul.

Paul clarified the discussion with Maddow by saying, “What I would say to be fair to myself, because I like to be fair to myself, is that I’ve always been in favor of the Civil Rights Act. People need to get over themselves writing all this stuff that I’ve changed my mind on the Civil Rights Act.”

Paul continued, “Have I ever had a philosophical discussion about all aspects of it? Yeah, and I’ve learned my lesson: to come onto MSNBC and have a philosophical discussion- the liberals will come out of the woodwork and go crazy and say you’re against the Civil Rights Act and you’re some terrible racist. And I take great objection to that, because in Congress I think there is nobody else trying harder to get people back their voting rights, to get people back and make the criminal justice system fair. So I take great offense to people who want to portray me as something that I’m not,” said Paul.

Melber used the term “evolve” once more to ask Paul, “But when you said well- here’s where the rules for private businesses are concerning- why not explain that you’ve evolved on that?”

“I’m not willing to engage with people who are misrepresenting my viewpoint on this,” replied Paul, who pointed out that he’s been previously accused by people at MSNBC of being opposed to the Civil rights Act because of his discussion with Maddow.

After Melber said that an honest discussion might include talking about different parts of the Act, Paul interrupted: “The honest discussion of it would be that I never was opposed to the Civil Rights Act and when your network does 24-hour news telling the truth, then maybe we can get somewhere with the discussion.”



Rand Paul And Cory Booker Partner Up For Criminal Justice Reform

Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have come together to introduce legislation that would reform the current justice system to allow low-level and non-violent offenders a better chance at leading a normal life after incarceration.

The legislation, titled Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment Act, or the REDEEM Act, would allow adults who served sentences for nonviolent crimes to have their records sealed, which would provide an improved likelihood of gaining a good job. Additionally, nonviolent offenders would be eligible to acquire welfare and food stamps after serving their sentences.

The legislation would also “automatically expunge the records of juveniles who commit nonviolent crimes before they turn 15 and automatically seal the records of those who commit them after.”

The Act would encourage states where the criminal responsibility age is under 18 to be raised to 18 by offering preference to those states when they apply for federal community police grants. This would potentially cut down on sending “countless kids into the unforgiving adult criminal system.” The Act also places limits on solitary confinement of youth offenders.

“The biggest impediment to civil rights and employment in our country is a criminal record. Many of these young people could escape this trap if criminal justice were reformed, if records were expunged after time served, and if nonviolent crimes did not become a permanent blot preventing employment,” said Paul in a statement.

Said Booker of his alliance with Paul for the REDEEM Act, “I will work with anyone, from any party, to make a difference for the people of New Jersey, and this bipartisan legislation does just that.” Booker also said that this legislation “will ensure that our tax dollars are being used in smarter, more productive ways. It will also establish much-needed sensible reforms that keep kids out of the adult correctional system, protect their privacy so a youthful mistake can remain a youthful mistake, and help make it less likely that low-level adult offenders re-offend.”

Despite Paul supporting Booker’s opponent during the 2013 special Senate election, the REDEEM Act is the second partnership from Booker and Paul. In June, the two senators teamed up to sponsor an amendment to a Justice Department spending bill that would stop the DEA from using funds to go after medical marijuana users and their providers in states where medical marijuana has been legalized.

What Happened To Zuckerberg’s $100 Million Donation To New Jersey Schools?

Newark, NJ– In 2010, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously announced on the Oprah Winfrey Show that he would be donating $100 million to repair the school system in Newark, New Jersey. Zuckerberg then teamed up with Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and the city’s Mayor at the time, Cory Booker, to create a foundation called Startup:Education.

At that time Newark was unquestionably in need of help, as its graduation rate had sunk below 67% and the city was struggling with high crime and poverty rates. Booker and Christie had already been discussing massive educational reform including a goal to make Newark “the charter school capital of the nation.” The foundation created by Zuckerberg, Christie and Booker had the vision of implementing new educational programs to transform the Newark school system into “a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation”, according to Zuckerberg.

Some of the stipulations from Zuckerberg included hiring a “transformational leader” as a superintendent and finding donors to match his $100 million. Cami Anderson was appointed by Christie in 2011 and she had attempted different reform methods, including closing twelve of the city’s worst K-8 grade schools and consolidating them into eight “renew schools” that operated similarly to charter schools. Anderson’s latest plan, One Newark, is supposed to allow parents to choose from 55 public and 16 charter schools to send their children. That plan is currently riddled with complications, such as lack of student transportation.

Nearly four years later many are left wondering if any progress in Newark has been made from his gift. According to an in-depth analysis from the New Yorker, most of Zuckerberg’s hundred million dollars “has been spent or committed.” Despite the efforts from Anderson to develop changes inside the schools, a great deal of that money- over $20 million- went to pay consultants for things like public relations, human resources, and communications. Some consultants were being paid about $1,000 per day. Back pay for the teacher’s union and seniority protections were also high, costing additional tens of millions of dollars. “Everybody’s getting paid, but Raheem still can’t read,” noted Vivian Cox Fraser, the president of the Urban League of Essex County. Newark’s test scores have barely budged, and their educational outlook remains dismal.

Newly elected Newark Mayor Ras Baraka opposes the the One Newark plan brought by Anderson, calling it “a dismantling of public education”. The hemorrhage of funds coupled with disputes over what reforms should take place in Newark has contributed to ongoing uncertainty about the city’s educational future.

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