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Senators propose draft legislation to federally legalize marijuana

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VICKSBURG, Miss. (Vicksburg Daily News) – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) released a discussion draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) on Thursday, proposed legislation that would end federal cannabis prohibition and leverage federal resources to protect public health, regulate the state-based cannabis industry and arguably most impactfully, repair societal damage inflicted by cannabis prohibition.

“This is monumental, because at long last we are taking steps in the Senate to right the wrongs of the failed War on Drugs,” Schumer said in a press conference. “As my colleagues and I have said before, the War on Drugs has really been a war on people – particularly people of color.”

The CAOA calls for:

  • removing cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances
  • immediately expunging all federal non-violent marijuana crimes
  • allowing states to implement their own cannabis laws, which could include state-level prohibition
  • regulating the production, sale and distribution of cannabis under the FDA
  • imposing a federal excise tax on cannabis products similar to the federal taxes on alcohol and tobacco
  • directing a portion of that new tax revenue to restorative programs aimed at communities adversely affected by the War on Drugs
  • directing a portion of the tax revenue to fund research into cannabis and its health effects

A detailed summary of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act is available here.

To date, the adult use of cannabis is legal in 18 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam; and the medical use of cannabis is legal in 37 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with nearly all Americans living in a state where some form of cannabis is legal.

The CAOA draft is a comprehensive sweeping legislation that most feel is unlikely to pass.  While Congress drags their feet and works out the details of what cannabis-friendly federal regulation might look like, the American people overwhelmingly support legalization in some form.  A Pew Research poll released in April found that 60 percent of Americans feel cannabis should be totally legal, while 91 percent believe it should at least be legal for medicinal use.

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