Federal Cannabis Legalization Bill Unveiled by Sen. Schumer

Democratic senators unveiled the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act today, which seeks to federally legalize cannabis and contains social justice elements aimed at undoing the harms of prohibition.

Full story after the jump.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) and fellow Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (OR) and Cory Booker (NJ) today unveiled their highly anticipated legalization bill, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.

The 163-page discussion draft bill — which was posted and described in detail by Marijuana Moment — seeks to deschedule cannabis, expunge cannabis-related criminal records, allow incarcerated people to petition for resentencing, and establish social equity cannabis grant programs funded by a new federal cannabis tax. The bill would allow individual states to maintain cannabis prohibition, although such “dry” cannabis states would not be allowed to criminalize the transport of cannabis across their borders so long as the shipment is moving between two legal markets.

The following is a brief rundown of the draft bill’s primary contents — note that these provisions are up for discussion and will likely see some changes.

  • The attorney general would have 60 days to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.
  • Cannabis would become federally legal for adults aged 21 and older (the bill includes a federal purchasing cap of 10 ounces per visit).
  • Federal regulatory authority over cannabis would shift from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Alchohol and Tobacco Trade and Tax Bureau (TTB).
  • Federal districts would be tasked with expunging non-violent, cannabis-related arrests and convictions dated within one year. People still serving a sentence for non-violent cannabis crimes would qualify for a resentencing hearing.
  • The bill proposes three new federal grant programs: one to fund job training and reentry services for underserved communities, another to support small business loans to cannabis companies owned by “socially and economically disadvantaged individuals,” and a third program to assist states in establishing cannabis licensing programs that “minimize barriers” for people adversely impacted by prohibition.
  • Grants would be funded by a gradual federal cannabis tax rate starting at 10 percent for the first two years, which would be increased in subsequent years to 15, 20, and eventually 25 percent. The bill includes a 50 percent tax reduction for “small cannabis producers with less than $20 million in [annual sales].”
  • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) would be tasked with investigating the effects of marijuana policy, such as looking at current state-legal markets, investigating the demographic data of both people with federal cannabis convictions and current cannabis business owners, and more.
  • Doctors with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs would finally be allowed to make medical cannabis recommendations.

The senators have asked for input on the legislation and will be accepting public comments until September 1. Comments can be submitted by email to Cannabis_Reform@finance.senate.gov.

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