Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is urging fellow legislators to give input on the provisions of a measure to federally legalize cannabis. In a letter addressed to fellow legislators, Schumer, Sen. Cory Booker and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden explained that the continued prohibition of cannabis at the federal level hindered the states’ ability to make their own decisions about marijuana. The letter noted that as more states moved to legalize marijuana for both medical and adult use, the federal government had a crucial role to play. They added that hundreds of millions of people in America lived in states that had legalized marijuana in some form, despite it being illegal at the federal level.
The Senate Majority Leader has faced criticism from advocates about how long it’s taken for the bill to reach this stage. However, during a recent press conference, Schumer announced that he planned to formally introduce the bill in April. The bill, called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, aims to ensure that the federal government matches the advancements made in various states across the United States.
The measure will allow individuals to petition for resentencing, expunge prior convictions, federally deschedule marijuana, eliminate collateral consequences for individuals who have been criminalized because of cannabis and maintain the authority of states to set their own cannabis policies. The measure will also impose a federal tax on cannabis products. Most of the revenue will be allocated to grant programs that support individuals from communities that were most affected by prohibition and who would like to take part in the flourishing industry.
In addition to this, the bill will transfer regulatory authority over marijuana to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives rather than the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Late last year, the Senate Majority Leader highlighted that he was focused on keeping major players in other industries out of the cannabis industry in order to create opportunities for smaller operators when marijuana was federally legalized, noting that his measure would help to do just that. He also emphasized that his reform measure would take the necessary steps to ensure that big tobacco and alcohol companies didn’t overtake the industry.
When discussing the letter to his colleagues on the Senate floor last week, Schumer also emphasized the need to create opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs to legally pursue new opportunities, adding that the comprehensive federal marijuana bill would help actualize this goal.
The entire cannabis industry, including entities such as Red White & Bloom Brands Inc. (CSE: RWB) (OTCQX: RWBYF), will benefit once Schumer’s efforts bear fruit and marijuana policy is reformed at the federal level.
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