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Democratic senators seek colleagues’ input on federal cannabis legalization

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Three Democratic lawmakers intent on reforming the nation’s cannabis policy are seeking input into a federal marijuana legalization bill in a letter sent to their Senate colleagues on Thursday. The letter, written by Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon and Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker, invites senators “to the drafting process as we work to finalize this legislation.”

“In order to adequately address such a delicate matter, we respectfully request contributions, advice, and guidance from presidents and trainee members of the relevant committees as well as senators who have dealt with the challenges and realities of legalization in their respective states,” Senators books in their message.

Schumer, Wyden, and Booker noted that 37 states have now passed laws to legalize cannabis in some form, writing that “Alaska, Montana, Arizona, and others have followed Colorado, Washington, and Oregon in reforming outdated cannabis laws. Even voters in a conservative state like South Dakota have shown their support to legitimize it.”

“As more and more states move to legalize cannabis for both medical and adult use, the federal government has an important role to play. Hundreds of millions of Americans live in states that have legalized cannabis in some form while it is still not legal,” the three senators added. Legal at the federal level.” “This discrepancy leads to confusion and uncertainty and raises important questions about criminal justice reform, economic development and small business growth, and public health and safety, all of which we believe require some kind of federal answer.”

Democratic bill passed last year

The three Democrats are working to reform the country’s marijuana laws with new legislation. Last year, they shared what they described as a “discussion draft” of Cannabis Management and the Law of Opportunity (CAOA). The 30-page document detailed several areas of federal cannabis regulations that were inconsistent with marijuana policy changes made at the state level and developed a comprehensive plan for the federal legalization of marijuana. The legislation would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and establish a framework for overturning federal cannabis convictions.

The measure also provides for a federal tax on marijuana products, with proceeds earmarked for grant programs designed to invest in communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. The CAOA would also strip the authority to regulate marijuana from the Drug Enforcement Administration and shift most responsibilities to the Food and Drug Administration, where the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Trade and Taxes also take on some of the regulatory duties.

At a recent event in New York, Schumer said he will formally introduce the legislation as soon as April, noting that he has made cannabis reform a top priority as Senate Majority Leader.

“As the majority leader, I can set priorities,” Schumer He said. “This is a priority for me.”

The senators noted in a letter Thursday that they have received more than 1,800 comments from stakeholders on the agency’s proposal so far, “many of which include objective and detailed policy recommendations.” The senators added that in the coming weeks many of the comments will be incorporated into the draft legislation to reflect the views and voices of as many stakeholders as possible. They closed the letter by inviting their colleagues in the Senate to join them in the process.

They added, “We greatly appreciate your desire to share your experience on the intersections between the mandates of your committees, the experiences of your states, and comprehensive cannabis reform, and we invite you to join the process of mastering this legislation.” “We welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter with you in the coming weeks.”

But John Hodak, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, recently said Bloomberg government The chance of passing mass marijuana legalization does not appear strong.

Hodak said of Democrats in Congress: “They see this as a real political win not only for themselves but also for the party as they approach the midterm elections.” “But the challenge, even for the idea of ​​bringing the bill up for debate, is that the votes aren’t there.”

Some Democrats believe separate bills focusing on different aspects of marijuana policy reform are the best way to make progress on this issue with Republicans and President Joe Biden. Safe and Fair Banking Act (SAFE) Ed Perlmutter, Democrat of Colorado, will allow financial institutions to provide banking services to cannabis companies that operate legally under state law. Parliament last week He approved the legislation for the sixth time and adding it to a bill designed to improve economic competitiveness with China.

“We know the president has been somewhat hesitant about this, so the piecemeal approach that we talked about earlier is probably the best approach to present to management,” Perlmutter said last week.

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