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Senate Minority Leader Schumer says yes to marijuana legalization

The Senate's top Democrat — Charles Schumer of New York— plans to endorse legislation that would decriminalize marijuana. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

WASHINGTON — The Senate’s top Democrat — Charles Schumer of New York— plans to endorse legislation that would decriminalize marijuana.

“If smoking marijuana doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t we allow people to do it and not make it criminal?” Schumer told VICE News, according to a partial transcript released by the outlet on Thursday.

Schumer plans to introduce legislation in the coming days that would remove marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Agency’s list of controlled substances and let states decide how to regulate the drug, according to the VICE interview, which was scheduled to air Thursday evening.

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It’s a shift for Schumer, who has not previously supported decriminalizing pot for recreational use. And it gives supporters of marijuana a high-profile new ally as they try to expand legalization.

“I’m doing it because I think it’s the right thing to do. I’ve seen too many people’s lives ruined by the criminalization,” Schumer says in the VICE interview. “The best thing to do is let each state decide on its own.”

When asked if he had ever smoked pot himself, Schumer said no.