Senator Chuck Schumer of New York and other lawmakers introduced a draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act on Wednesday, to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
The bill was written by Schumer, Senator Cory Booker (D), Senator Ron Wyden (D), and the chairman of the Finance Committee. If passed, this legislation would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and begin regulating and taxing it. New York Times reports the legislation would allow states to set their own marijuana laws. This means businesses and individuals in states that have legalized its use would be free for the first time to sell and consume without the risk of federal punishment.
The proposal would also reportedly make an effort to recompense communities of color and the poor for damage from years of restrictive federal drug policy. NYT reports, it calls for immediately expunging nonviolent marijuana-related arrests and convictions from federal records and would earmark new tax revenue for restorative justice programs intended to lift up communities affected by “the failed federal prohibition of cannabis.”
According to the lawmakers, their goal is to make Washington a part of a debate that many Americans are already engaged in. During a news conference, Schumer made a commitment to “use my clout as majority leader to make this a priority in the Senate.” As of now, the proposal is a draft bill, making it a step in making it legislation. According to Schumer, “this is going to be a process” indicating that the proposal will now be introduced to more lawmakers and potentially gain more support.
According to CNN, most legislation in the Senate would require the votes of at least 10 Republicans to pass because of the current 50-50 partisan split of the chamber where Democrats hold the narrowest possible majority with Vice President Kamala Harris able to act as a tie-breaking vote. Schumer said he is not considering adding the legislation to the current budget reconciliation package, which would allow the proposal to be passed with only 51 votes.