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Federal Cannabis Legalization Takes Big Leap Forward

Updated: Dec 19, 2021

Senators Schumer, Wyden & Booker Release Long-Awaited Draft Language for Comprehensive Cannabis Reform Bill

JULY 14 – One could practically hear the applause nationwide as the cannabis industry and its advocates reacted to news released today by the US. Senate.  Early this morning, the trio of pro-cannabis Senators released the discussion draft language for the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act – a comprehensive bill legalizing cannabis on the national level while granting states control over their own cannabis policies.

The summary of the discussion draft opens with an admission of the human costs of the failed war on drugs and acknowledges the disproportionately severe harm suffered by communities of color.  It espoused restorative measures like automatic expungement of non-violent marijuana offenses and re-sentencing petitions for those serving time for non-violent cannabis-related offenses.  The bill also proposes an “Opportunity Trust Fund” which would direct cannabis tax revenue to reinvesting in communities most impacted by prohibition and removing barriers to entrepreneurs of color from entering into the industry.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said: “This is monumental because at long last we are taking steps in the Senate to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs. … I will use my clout as Majority Leader to make this [legislation] a priority in the Senate. … It makes eminent sense to legalize marijuana.”

The draft summary is a worthwhile read to get an overview of the restorative justice aspects of the bill, the taxation and trust fund, and the “transfer of primary agency jurisdiction over cannabis regulation from the DEA to FDA and TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau)”.

As more and more states continue to legalize cannabis and it dawns on the power structure that legalization could help fuel the post-pandemic economic recovery, it stands to reason that the advances made by the federal legalization of cannabis will trickle down to industrial hemp.

On page 7 of the refreshingly readable summary, it points out that the Sponsoring Offices are requesting commentary on the new definition of cannabis, including the “interaction between the definition of cannabis and the definition of hemp”. And that’s where we must spring into action.

We’ve seen time and again that our comments do matter, so it’s of utmost importance to jump into this discussion now.  The draft summary indicated that the Sponsoring Offices encourage stakeholders to submit comments in writing by September 1, 2021, so that they have ample time to deliberate before introducing a final legislative draft. Comments may be submitted to Cannabis_Reform@finance.senate.gov.

As always, we’ll keep you informed of all developments as they emerge.  For now, let’s all get cracking on effective communication of the “interaction between the definition of cannabis and the definition of hemp”.  We can do this. Progress is happening, and we all have a role to play in it.

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