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Wyden, Senate colleagues reintroduce legislation to end federal cannabis prohibition, say ‘vast majority of Americans’ agree


WASHNGTON (KTVZ) -- Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) on Wednesday reintroduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, comprehensive legislation that would end the federal cannabis prohibition by removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act; empower states to create their own cannabis laws; ensure federal regulation protects public health and safety; and prioritize restorative and economic justice.

"This legislation would be a historic step toward rectifying the failed policies of the War on Drugs and would help federal law better reflect the will of the vast majority of Americans, 91% of whom believe that cannabis should be legalized for either adult or medical use," they said in a news release, which continues in full:

“It’s past time for the federal government to catch up to the attitudes of the American people when it comes to cannabis,” said Leader Schumer. “That’s why we’re reintroducing the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, legislation that would finally end the federal prohibition on cannabis while prioritizing safety, research, workers’ rights and restorative justice. We have more work to do to address decades of over-criminalization, particularly in communities of color, but today’s reintroduction shows the movement is growing, and I will keep working until we achieve meaningful change.”

“Our comprehensive Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act doesn’t tell states what to do—but it provides them with the tools to effectively implement the laws their voters and legislators choose,” said Senator Wyden. “Public health, public safety, opportunity and social justice must be at the core of any cannabis reform proposal, and it’s crucial stakeholders continue to have a seat at the table. I look forward to working with my colleagues and advocates across the country to make these priorities a reality.”

“It is long past time to confront the failure of the War on Drugs, particularly its disproportionate impact on communities of color and low-income individuals. We must take proactive and significant steps to rectify these ongoing injustices,” said Senator Booker. “Thousands of people have suffered at the hands of our broken cannabis laws, and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would finally dismantle the outdated federal marijuana prohibition, expunge past convictions for people with low-level cannabis offenses, and ensure restorative justice for communities impacted by the War on Drugs. These common-sense policies will ensure a more equitable criminal justice system and promote public safety.”

The CAOA establishes a federal regulatory framework to protect public health and safety, prioritizes restorative and economic justice to help undo the decades of harm caused by the failed War on Drugs, ends discrimination in the provision of federal benefits on the basis of cannabis use, provides major investments for cannabis research, and strengthens worker protections. By decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level, the CAOA also ensures that state-legal cannabis businesses or those in adjacent industries will no longer be denied access to bank accounts or financial services simply because of their ties to cannabis.

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act is co-sponsored by Senators Murray (D-WA), Merkley (D-OR), Gillibrand (D-NY), Warren (D-MA), Markey (D-MA), Bennet (D-CO), Peters (D-MI), Smith (D-MN), Hickenlooper (D-CO), Luján (D-NM), Padilla (D-CA), Welch (D-VT), Warnock (D-GA), Fetterman (D-PA), Butler (D-CA).

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act:

  1. Protects public health by
    1. Establishing a Center for Cannabis Products to regulate production, labeling, distribution, sales and other manufacturing and retail elements of the cannabis industry.
    2. Instructing the FDA to establish standards for labeling of cannabis products, including potency, doses, servings, place of manufacture, and directions for use.
    3. Establishing programs and funding to prevent youth cannabis use
    4. Increasing funding for comprehensive opioid, stimulant, and substance use disorder treatment.
  2. Protects public safety by
    1. Removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and eliminating federal prohibitions in states that have chosen to legalize medical cannabis, or adult-use cannabis
    2. Retaining federal prohibitions on trafficking of cannabis in violation of state law; establishing a grant program to help departments combat black market cannabis
    3. Requiring the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create standards for cannabis-impaired driving
    4. Directing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to collect data on cannabis-impaired driving, create educational materials on “best practices,” and carry out media campaigns;
    5. Incentivizing states to adopt cannabis open container prohibitions
  3. Regulates and taxes cannabis by
    1. Transferring federal jurisdiction over cannabis to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)
    2. Eliminating the tax code’s restriction on cannabis businesses claiming deductions for business expenses, and implementing an excise tax on cannabis products
    3. Establishing market competition rules meant to protect independent producers, wholesalers, and retailers and prevent anti-competitive behavior
  4. Encourages cannabis research by
    1. Requiring the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study and report on metrics that may be impacted by cannabis legalization
    2. Requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct or support research on the impacts of cannabis
    3. Requiring the VA to carry out a series of clinical trials studying the effects of medical cannabis on the health outcomes of veterans diagnosed with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder
    4. Requiring the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly compile and publicize data on the demographics of business owners and employees in the cannabis industry
    5. Establishing grants to build up cannabis research capacity at institutions of higher education, with a particular focus on minority-serving institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  5. Prioritizes restorative and economic justice by
    1. Using federal tax revenue to fund an Opportunity Trust Fund to reinvest in communities and individuals most harmed by the failed War on Drugs.
    2. Establishing a Cannabis Justice Office at the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs
    3. Establishing a grant program to provide funding to help minimize barriers to cannabis licensing and employment for individuals adversely impacted by the War on Drugs
    4. Establishing expedited FDA review of drugs containing cannabis manufactured by small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals
    5. Directing the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to establish a grant program to provide communities whose residents have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs with additional funding to address the housing, economic, and community development needs of such residents
    6. Initiating automatic expungement of federal non-violent cannabis offenses and allows an individual currently serving time in federal prison for nonviolent cannabis offense to petition a court for resentencing
    7. Disallowing the denial of any benefits or protections under immigration law to any noncitizen based on their use or possession of cannabis
    8. Prevents discrimination in the provision of federal benefits against people who use cannabis
  6. Strengthens workers' rights
    1. Removing unnecessary federal employee pre-employment and random drug testing for cannabis
    2. Ensuring worker protections for those employed in the cannabis industry
    3. Establishing grants for community-based education, outreach, and enforcement of workers’ rights in the cannabis industry

The text of the bill can be found here. A summary of the introduced CAOA can be found here.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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