On Wednesday, keeping up with one of his campaign promises, Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer released a sweeping draft legislation to legalize marijuana. Weed legislation has become quite common across several states but federal legislation is still elusive. There are eighteen states across the nation who have fully legislated marijuana and 37 states allow the sale of medical marijuana.
The bill is called Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. It has three sponsors:
- Chuck Schumer — Senate Majority Leader and Democrat from New York
- Cory Booker — Democrat from New Jersey
- Ron Wyden — Democrat from Oregon
The proposals in the bill include
- removing federal penalties on cannabis
- expunging federal records of nonviolent crimes related to cannabis
- allowing states to decide the legalization of cannabis
Earlier in April, Schumer told POLITICO that the fact that every member will not only know that the legislation has his support, but it will also come to the floor for a vote would help things move forward in a very strong way.
The draft offers provisions that will satisfy both the Republicans and the progressives among the Democrats. There are a few opposing voices among the Democrats themselves. No Republican has come forward to support the legislation. Among the Republicans even those who have supported marijuana bills in their states have not lent support at a federal level.
There is bipartisan support at the public level. Both Wyden and Booker’s offices will welcome comments from a cross section of people till September 1. Some of them include
- the general public
- spokespersons from the cannabis industry
- public health experts
- law enforcement
Schumer acknowledges that the current proposal is a draft. He said that they would definitely listen to suggestions if it will bring more people on their side. However, they would not discard issues such as expungement of record and other things that were important to them just because “some people don’t like it.”
The senators also have to win support from President Joe Biden. Although he has always been for decriminalization of cannabis, he has not as yet supported legalizing marijuana. Federal legislation of cannabis is an uphill battle, but the trio have started climbing the first few steps.
Photo Senate Democrats