On Wednesday, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and colleagues will finally release a discussion draft of the long-awaited bill to federally legalize cannabis.
Sen. Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) will hold a press conference Wednesday to announce the version of what is being called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, reported Marijuana Moment.
Protecting Small Businesses
While details are not yet available, the draft is heralding the much-anticipated cannabis legalization bill that is intended to lead to the introduction of a bill to be voted on in the coming months. In addition to ending the prohibition of cannabis, Schumer has said the proposal will “ensure restorative justice, public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations.”
In March, Schumer revealed plans to design a cannabis legalization bill that will prevent alcohol and tobacco giants from dominating the industry. At the time, the Senator explained the bill will be oriented towards protecting small companies, mostly those in the ownership of people from communities that have been negatively affected by prohibition and the failed war on drugs.
Schumer went on to say the bill will promote “justice, justice, justice – as well as freedom.”
“We don’t want the big tobacco companies and the big liquor companies to swoop in and take over,” he said. “The legislation we have will make sure that smaller businesses, businesses in communities of color, get the advantage because communities of color have paid the price for decades. They should at least get something back.”
At the same conference in March, Sen. Cory Booker said the war on drugs has expanded to become a war on certain people.
“Veterans are disproportionately arrested for possession of marijuana; low-income people disproportionately arrested; people with mental health challenges disproportionately arrested; and of course, as you said, Chuck, black and brown communities are targeted,” Booker said.
Schumer also pressed voters to push their congressional representatives by telling to them that “this is long overdue.”
What About The President? Many Are Optimistic
The question once asked remains: will President Biden approve a federal cannabis legalization bill if it reaches his desk?
Back in April, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki answered various cannabis legalization questions during the unofficial cannabis holiday 4/20 but refused to make it clear if Biden would sign this bill. Instead, she provided a confusing response:
“The president supports leaving decisions regarding legalization for recreational use up to the states, rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts and, at the federal level, he supports decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging any prior criminal records,” Psaki said. “He also supports legalizing medicinal marijuana so that’s his point of view on the issue.”
Despite this unclear and not particularly promising response, some cannabis analysts and advocates are optimistic regarding federal cannabis legalization.
Jaret Seiberg, an analyst at Cowen said at the time that it doesn’t matter what the president thinks about cannabis...if it reaches his desk, he’ll sign.
“We believe there is too much focus on President Biden. It does not matter how he views legalization,” Seiberg wrote. “He will sign into law whatever cannabis bill that the Democratic Congress sends him. Legalization may not be Biden's priority, but he will not be an obstacle to it becoming law.”
Schumer shared the optimism: “Hopefully, the next time this unofficial holiday 420 rolls around, our country will have made progress in addressing the massive over-criminalization of marijuana in a meaningful and comprehensive way.”
Maureen Meehan contributed to this report.
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