Cory Booker is among Congress’s leading champions of reforming marijuana laws at the federal level. The popular senator and New Jersey Democrat is a stalwart of the legalization battle, and now, he is openly speaking out about the need to destroy long-held misconceptions and stereotypes of those who consume marijuana. He had this to say about it in a recent interview:
“I know in casual conversations in the Congress many legislators who have done pot themselves. This pejorative pot smoker label does not fly. So many Americans have used marijuana or have no judgement for people that do. It is like saying, ‘Oh, those alcohol drinkers.’ We are a great society, a decent society, a good society, but our criminal justice laws do not reflect the heart of America and we all have got to do something about that.”
This statement by Booker was a direct response to a suggestion made by Slate’s Mike Pesca, that it would be “a big ask” motivating pot smokers to help pass legislation that he introduced, presumably because Pesca was stereotyping all weed smokers as too lazy. The senator did not consider Pesca’s statement a laughing matter.
Booker is responsible for introducing far-reaching bills calling for the legalization of medical marijuana and the punishment of states who racially profile people of color for marijuana enforcement. In fact, Booker pointed out that some of the most successful people in history were avid marijuana consumers. Some still are. He said, “Two of the last three presidents admitted to doing drugs harder than pot.”
However, Booker could not fault the fact that not enough people who use cannabis are involving themselves in the fight to repeal prohibition of it. He had to agree with Pesca on this, saying that, “Too many people are sitting on the sidelines, and I really want to point fingers.” Specifically, Booker wants to call out affluent marijuana consumers who are not helping the movement.
“People that are privileged in society who smoke pot and just do not feel like there is any chance of consequences in their lives,” Booker pinpointed guilt. “Their indulging in that kind of behavior and not being a part of the activist community is hypocritical because there are too many children, too many young people, too many people in my neighborhood and in my community, who are suffering for doing the same thing that you are doing.”
In drawing parallels to previous social justice movements, Booker also reiterated the importance of people not directly affected by marijuana prohibition to join the fight. “The civil rights movement moved so fast because people sitting comfortably at home in Iowa watched what was happening in Alabama, got on freedom rides, went down to do sit-ins and boycotts,” he said.
“When it comes to America,” Booker continued, “We are all in this together. Do not just sit back and say ‘Hey, this is not affecting me or I already have access to marijuana.’ This is something we have got to do something about, and we need everybody involved.” During a taped speech earlier this month for a conference of legalization advocates, Booker called the wider drug war a “cancer.”