Senators Schumer, Wyden, and Booker have just introduced their long-awaited cannabis reform bill.
It would decriminalize marijuana, add new taxes and FDA regulations, and expunge federal criminal records.
Most likely, he is doomed in Congress because 60 senators do not support making cannabis widely available.
Three Democratic senators on Thursday launched a long-awaited and sweeping cannabis reform bill, planting their flag on an issue that has the support of the majority voters, but that, however, this Congress is likely doomed.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s bill; Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Finance Committee; and Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey, would end federal marijuana prohibition, implement criminal justice reforms, and add new taxes and regulations on cannabis products.
The bill, called the Cannabis Opportunity and Management Act, is unlikely to become law in this Congress because 60 senators do not support making cannabis more available: including not only most Republicans but also many Democrats — and the White House has expressed unspecified support for more limited reforms.
His stance on the matter is out of step with most of the public. Gallup poll find 68% of voters, including half of Republicans, say marijuana use should be legal.
On top of that, most people who live in the US already live in a state where some form of cannabis is legal. In total, 18 states and Washington, DC, have legalized the use of cannabis for adults while 37 states now have medical marijuana programs.
Despite inadequate support, Thursday’s bill is part of the growing momentum on the issue and industries are taking notice.
There has been a major lobbying operation involving not only tobacco companies but also alcohol Y tobacco interests that want a piece of the market, as well as investment banks, companies like PayPaland even of Health Y veterans groups.
All they have been eager to shape regulations, taxes and other reforms that would affect business. Wall Street Analysts Say US Cannabis Market Could Pay Off over $100 billion at the end of the decade.
Cannabis bill would add new taxes and FDA regulations
The new 296-page legislation would end the federal prohibition of cannabis by removing it from the controlled substance list. From there, states could make their own laws, but would have to limit use to people over the age of 21.
The bill would also allow the Food and Drug Administration to set new federal standards for cannabis products, including how they are labeled. The products would be regulated similarly to alcohol and tobacco, and would face a special tax set by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, part of the US Treasury Department.
The bill would automatically remove federal cannabis convictions, strengthen research on how cannabis affects public health and safety, and place limits on the amount of products people could buy.
Housing and student loan programs could not deny benefits to people who had used cannabis. The bill says most federal employees would no longer face random or pre-employment drug tests, though it reserves the right to test people in national security, law enforcement and commercial transportation jobs.
Congress might have a better chance with more incremental action
Schumer, Booker and Wyden first released a discussion draft of their bill A year ago. Since then, they have gathered more than 1,800 comments, according to Booker’s office.
The introduction of the Cannabis Stewardship and Opportunity Act marks a flurry of action in cannabis reform.
In May, the Democratic-led House passed the Marijuana Opportunity Elimination and Reinvestment Act, or the MORE Law, another radical measure to decriminalize cannabis. The Senate has not taken up that bill.
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism, chaired by Booker, will hold a federal cannabis reform hearing.
Despite the push for radical reforms, the bill that has the most support in the Senate is the bipartisan Safe and Fair Banking Act Complianceo SAFE Banking Act, which would help cannabis companies to access the banking system.
The bill’s provisions, which were also included in the Schumer-Booker-Wyden legislation, would allow more consumers to use credit cards for cannabis products instead of relying on cash or debit cards, an arrangement that can put homeowners at risk of theft.
But advocates of civil rights and criminal justice reform have urged lawmakers to go further to ensure the transition to legal cannabis is equitable. They want legislation that protects and restores the rights of communities most harmed by harsh sentencing laws that grew out of America’s failed drug wars.
It’s unclear whether the White House will extend its support for the Democrats’ bill. the daily beast reported that the White House expelled and marginalized some staff members for disclosing their past recreational use of marijuana.
President Joe Biden has expressed skepticism on full legalization, but this week said he was working to fulfill a campaign promise to free people jailed for marijuana.
“I don’t think anyone should be in prison for using marijuana,” Biden told reporters in response to a question from the New York Post.
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