Senator Cory Booker has revealed that he and his Senate colleagues are in talks with the White House regarding cannabis legalization. Now that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Booker have released a discussion draft of a federal marijuana legalization bill, they are working to bring President Joe Biden on board. President Biden has said that while he supports modest cannabis reform, including medical marijuana and expunging low-level cannabis offenses from people records, he opposes broad reform.
The trio released the 163-page federal cannabis bill last month, asking the public for input so they could improve it before formally introducing it for legislation. Dubbed the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity ACT (“CAOA”), the legislation would deschedule cannabis at the federal level, expunge prior marijuana-related convictions and allow states to continue maintaining their own cannabis policies, among other things. When asked how he planned on soliciting Biden’s and Vice President Kamala Harris’s support during a Q&A session on Twitter, Booker said they will start conversations with the White House now that a discussion draft of their bill is out.
While cannabis reform advocates have praised the senators’ efforts to federally legalize cannabis, there is a chance Biden might veto the bill should Congress send it to his desk. Gaining his support, as hard as that may be given the president’s past as a “leading warrior in the drug war,” it increases the legislation’s odds of becoming law. However, the federal cannabis bill may not even reach the president’s desk, given how tenuous the Democrats’ hold on the Senate is.
The three Senators will have to drum up 60 votes in the Senate for the bill to pass, which seems unlikely at the momennt. Even with the Democrats’ slim majority over the GOP, some members of the party have raised concerns about the comprehensive federal cannabis bill. Some industry stakeholders believe that the Secure and Fair Enforcement (“SAFE”) Banking Act is much more likely to advance in the Senate because it has bipartisan support; however, Booker has ruled out moving it, stating that Congress first has to provide restorative justice for communities that were disproportionately affected by the drug war.
Additionally, he says that since the CAOA would federally deschedule cannabis, it would inadvertently resolve the banking issue. It would also offer a 50% tax reduction through a tax credit to small cannabis operators with less than $20 million in sales, he says.
The federal reclassification of cannabis is likely to boost the market for CBD products made by companies such as The Alkaline Water Company Inc. (NASDAQ: WTER) (CSE: WTER) since the controversy surrounding the plant may reduce and expose it to new markets and demographics.
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