Draft Legislation to Federally Legalize Cannabis Introduced
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) have released a discussion draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, proposed legislation that would “help put an end to the unfair targeting and treatment of communities of color by removing cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances and empowering states to implement their own cannabis laws.”
Ending the federal prohibition on cannabis is becoming increasingly urgent as more and more states continue to legalize adult and medical use of cannabis. Despite the fact that cannabis is illegal under federal law, the majority of Americans live in a state where cannabis is legal in one form or another and more than 90 percent of Americans believe it should be legalized for either adult or medical use.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would ensure that Americans in all communities will not be arrested or barred from receiving essential services for using cannabis where it is legal. This proposal would also ensure state-compliant cannabis businesses will be able to access the essential financial services and will preserve the integrity of state cannabis laws while providing a path for federal regulation.
Importantly, this legislative proposal goes a step beyond legalizing cannabis by expunging federal non-violent marijuana crimes and allowing individuals currently serving time in federal prison for non-violent marijuana crimes to petition a court for resentencing. It will also establish a fund to reinvest in the communities that were hurt by the War on Drugs and provide restorative justice to communities of color.
Senators Booker, Wyden, and Schumer thank Senator Murray and her HELP Committee staff for their work in developing the Food and Drug Administration and public health components of the Discussion Draft.
Summary of the discussion draft of the Cannabis Administration And Opportunity Act:
- The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act aims to end the decades of harm inflicted on communities of color by removing cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances and empowering states to implement their own cannabis laws.
- The legislation also creates an “Opportunity Trust Fund” funded by federal cannabis tax revenue to reinvest in the communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs, as well as helping to level the playing field for entrepreneurs of color who continue to face barriers of access to the industry. Importantly, the legislation also ends discrimination in federal public benefits for medical marijuana patients and adult-use consumers.
The Sponsoring Offices request comments from stakeholders and members of the public, including social and criminal justice advocates, industry stakeholders, members of the public health and law enforcement communities, members of Congress, federal officials, state and local officials, and others for review and comment.