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Wednesday October 16th, 2019 8:00AM

Democratic leader announces new acceptance of marijuana

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The top Senate Democrat is using marijuana's informal holiday to announce a change of heart about the drug, another sign of the growing political acceptance of pot.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said Friday 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.

"My thinking, as well as the general population's views, on the issue has evolved," Schumer said.

Schumer said he also wants to ensure that minorities and women have a fair shot at getting involved in the growing marijuana industry and that the federal government invests in research.

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

Americans' support for marijuana legalization has been growing in polls with Gallup's most recent update in October showing that 64 percent of Americans were in favor of legalization.

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

Former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner also announced recently that he had changed his stance on marijuana and that he would promote its nationwide legalization as a way to help veterans and the nation's deadly opioid crisis.

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