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Overview of New Federal Marijuana Legalization Bill

Federal Marijuana Legalization

This week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Cory Booker, and Senator Ron Wyden held a press conference to introduce a preliminary draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, a new bill that would end federal cannabis prohibition.

As currently drafted, the bill would make the following changes to federal cannabis policies:

  • Deschedule cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act;
  • Allow states to craft their own cannabis policies, just as states do with alcohol;
  • Expunge federal records of arrests and convictions for non-violent cannabis offenses and allow for resentencing;
  • Create a regulatory framework and federal excise tax for cannabis; and
  • Establish a grants program to fund nonprofits to help those impacted by the war on cannabis, as well as programs to help equity applicants and states get access to funds for equity programs.

“For justice reform, for equity, for individual liberty, and countless other reasons, it is time to respect the will of the American people and legalize cannabis,” said MPP. “I am heartened by the Booker, Schumer, Wyden bill draft, which is a promising first step towards Senate passage, and hopeful that it will lead to negotiations and bipartisan support for an inclusive and equitable legal cannabis industry.”

In May of this year, Rep. Jerrold Nadler reintroduced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. The bill passed the House of Representatives last year, but it did not advance in the Senate.

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, a bill that would prevent federal regulators from punishing financial institutions that provide services to state-legal cannabis businesses, passed the House earlier this year. A Senate version of this bill has been introduced and currently has 39 cosponsors.

Since November 2020, eight states have either approved ballot initiatives or enacted legislation to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults. This brings the total number of legalization states to 19 (in one state, South Dakota, the law has been suspended pending a court ruling).

According to a 2020 Gallup poll, 68% of Americans support marijuana legalization, including nearly half of Republicans.

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