To date, the adult use of cannabis is legal in 18 states and 37 states have advanced laws to allow medical cannabis. New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker and other Democratic senators want to end the prohibition of cannabis nationally and end what they say is the unfair targeting and treatment of communities of color.
Last week, Booker, along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, released a discussion draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. If passed, the act would remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances and allow states to implement their own cannabis laws.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would prevent people from being arrested or barred from receiving essential services for using cannabis where it is legal. The proposal would also ensure state-compliant cannabis businesses will be able to access the essential financial services and will preserve state cannabis laws while providing a path for federal regulation.
“For decades, our federal government has waged a War on Drugs that has unfairly impacted low-income communities and communities of color,” said Booker. “While red and blue states across the country continue to legalize marijuana, the federal government continues to lag woefully behind. It is time for Congress to end the federal marijuana prohibition and reinvest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs.”
The proposal goes a step beyond legalizing cannabis by expunging federal non-violent marijuana crimes and allowing individuals currently serving time in federal prison for non-violent marijuana crimes to petition a court for resentencing. The legislation also creates an “Opportunity Trust Fund” funded by federal cannabis tax revenue to reinvest in the communities most impacted by drug laws.
Today, more than 90% of Americans believe cannabis should be legal either for adult or medical use. Despite legalization under state law and broad public support for cannabis legalization, cannabis remains illegal under federal law.
I am proud to introduce our discussion draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, a legislative proposal aimed at finally putting an end to the federal prohibition of cannabis and addressing the over-criminalization of cannabis in a comprehensive and meaningful way,” said Schumer. “The War on Drugs has too often been a war on people, and particularly people of color.”
Like with federal regulations on alcohol, states can determine their own cannabis laws, but federal prohibition will no longer be a factor. Regulatory responsibility will be moved from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF), as well as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to protect public health.