Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has made it clear that he is a strong supporter of comprehensive marijuana reform at the federal level. For the past couple of months, he has been working with Senator Cory Booker and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden on a bill that would federally legalize cannabis and regulate sales.
Dubbed the Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAOA), Schumer’s bill was first unveiled in 2021 to mixed reviews. The draft bill intended to deschedule cannabis at the federal level, expunge prior nonviolent cannabis convictions from people’s records, allow states to continue running their own cannabis markets, and even allow people with prior cannabis convictions to petition for resentencing.
It would also use some of the funds raised from marijuana sales for programs that support communities that were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
Schumer has now revealed that he will not introduce his Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act this month due to a timeline extension. The additional time will be spent working on various provisions with the help of more than 10 Senate committees and input from several federal agencies. The senate majority leader had said on numerous occasions that he would formally file the federal legalization bill by the end of April. The legislation’s official introduction has now been pushed to sometime before the August recess.
Two weeks ago, Schumer revealed that he and his colleagues had reached out to GOP senators to see what they would like to see included in his bill before he formally unveiled it. At the time, he said that they hoped to file the bill towards the end of April.
Although stakeholders in the nascent cannabis sector would love to get a federal legalization bill as soon as possible, taking their time will allow Schumer and his colleagues to drum up more support for the CAOA. At the moment, Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate and are unlikely to pass the federal cannabis legalization bill without GOP support.
In a press release, Schumer called his cannabis bill a “critical legislation” that will finally lift federal cannabis prohibition and attempt to alleviate the damage caused by the over-criminalization of cannabis. He said that his bill would not only strike cannabis from the country’s list of controlled substances, but it would also promote restorative justice, help to repair the country’s criminal justice system and protect public health.
If this delay results in better chances of the measure being passed, the wait will be worthwhile to the entire cannabis industry, including major sector players such as Red White & Bloom Brands Inc. (CSE: RWB) (OTCQX: RWBYF).
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