So far, 2020 has been pretty rough on drug reform initiatives. Marijuana legalization activists in states like Idaho and Florida have had to postpone their legalization activities after the coronavirus pandemic made signature collection almost impossible and kept lawmakers occupied with more urgent issues. However, the push for federal marijuana reform received a massive boost after a Democratic Senator filed a new bill to federally legalize marijuana in late July.
Titled the ‘Substance Regulation and Safety Act,’ the legislation was sponsored by Senator Tina Smith. If passed, it would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and direct federal agencies to develop a framework for regulating marijuana in the country. The legislation would de-schedule cannabis, and it would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop rules that treat cannabis the same as tobacco and to create a national research institute to evaluate the risks and benefits of cannabis. The federal age requirement for marijuana sales would be 21.
The bill would also require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to impose quality control standards and mandate the Department of Transportation to study ways law enforcement can detect THC-impaired driving. The text of the bill states that the de-scheduling provisions are “retroactive and shall apply to any offense committed, case pending, or conviction entered, and, in the case of a juvenile, any offense committed, case pending, or adjudication of juvenile delinquency entered, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of this Act.”
The legislation state that HHS would be required to “regulate cannabis products in the same manner, and to the same extent” as tobacco, and that includes “applying all labeling and advertising requirements that apply to tobacco products under such Act to cannabis products.” The agency would also have to come up with a “national strategy to prevent youth use and abuse of cannabis, with specific attention to youth vaping of cannabis products.”
On racial justice, the legislation requires HHS to “consult with civil rights stakeholders to determine whether cannabis abuse prevention strategies and policies are likely to have racially disparate impacts” within 100 days of the bill’s enactment. On top of that, the Department of Transportation would also have to determine whether its impaired driving prevention policy “is likely to contribute to racially disparate impacts in the enforcement of traffic safety laws.”|
The Act would also require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to work with other agencies to develop policies on allowing marijuana imports and exports. “It’s terrific to see Senator Smith engage so substantively in the cannabis reform policy debate,” says Justin Strekal, political director of NORML. “We at NORML look forward to propelling many aspects of the new legislation into the broader conversation on the future of federal regulations in regards to a post prohibition America.”
Experts say companies like Sugarmade, Inc. (OTCQB: SGMD) will be hoping that this bill doesn’t end in limbo like others before it.
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