Sen. Schumer announces plan to decriminalize marijuana

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The top Senate Democrat says he now supports making pot legal under federal law.

Sen. Chuck Schumer says he'll introduce a bill taking marijuana off the federal list of controlled substances - in effect decriminalizing its use.

Instead, his bill would let states decide how to treat marijuana possession. Under the measure, the federal government would still enforce laws against moving pot into states where it's illegal and would still regulate advertising so it isn't aimed at children.

Eight states and the District of Columbia now allow recreational use of marijuana, and a majority allow its use for medical purposes.

The White House said last week that President Donald Trump backs legislation to protect the marijuana industry in states where it is legal.

Dr. Jeff Reynolds, of the Family & Children's Association, agreed that it’s time to take a different approach with marijuana laws.

"It's clearly time that we look at marijuana policy, and stop using a criminal justice approach for dealing with this drug," he said. "At the same time, we don't want to go too far. We want to make sure we are educating people about the potential health consequences associated with marijuana use."

Linda Ventura, whose son died of a heroin overdose, disagrees with Sen. Schumer’s plan. She told News 12 that marijuana was a gateway drug for her son Thomas.

“I would say it was only 24 months before you move on to bigger, badder things,” she said.

News 12 reached out to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office for a comment. It said, “We support the senator's action.”

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