On Wednesday July 14, 2021, Chuck Schumer and other Senate Democrats unveiled a bill that proposes sweeping reforms to the Federal regulation of cannabis. The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act seeks to correct the injustices perpetrated during the prolonged war on drugs, provide opportunities for those most affected by these injustices, and impose federal regulations to facilitate and ensure a healthy national cannabis market within the United States.
An End to Federal Prohibition
First, this Act would finally end the federal prohibition on cannabis by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, formally recognizing the validity of individual state’s laws regarding cannabis use and possession, and establishing 21 as the federal minimum age for retail marijuana purchasing. Additionally, jurisdiction for the enforcement of cannabis regulations and laws would be removed from the DEA and transferred to the FDA and Treasury Department. The new treatment of cannabis will also allow for greater federal research into the benefits of legalization in states where possession and use have ben legalized, as well as the long-term medical impact and benefits of marijuana use.
Repairing Damage from the War on Drugs
Aside from preventing further harm by ending the federal prohibition on cannabis possession and use, the Act contains several provisions that seek to correct and remedy the wrongs perpetrated during the war on drugs. For instance, the Act would establish a federal grant program for those harmed by the war on drugs to obtain funding for things such as job training or legal assistance, as well as require federal jurisdictions to expunge all convictions and arrests for non-violent cannabis offenses. Other provisions would make assistance programs under the Small Business Act available to marijuana businesses across the nation.
Similarly, one of the most harmful effects felt by those convicted or charged with cannabis violations, the loss of federal benefits, will be eliminated. Under this Act, an individual could not be denied any federal benefit, immigration benefit, or security clearance, on the basis on marijuana possession or use. This critical inclusion will help to ensure that innocent people are not being denied access to crucial programs such as federal housing simply for marijuana use or possession.
The Potential Future
If this Act was passed, marijuana businesses would need to register with the Treasury Department, comply with any additional federal operational requirements that the legislature decides to impose, and pay a federal excise tax similar to that on alcohol and tobacco products, but no longer be at risk of federal sanctions or penalties.
This Act would be massively beneficial to cannabis businesses and individuals alike, and as such, we at Gard Law Firm will be following its progress closely. We will continue to provide updates as this bill advances, and hopefully is passed soon.