Is Federal Cannabis Legalization A Longshot? Senator Hopes For 'Some Key Reforms'

Zinger Key Points
  • “A 50-50 majority in the Senate will make passing our bill a difficult feat,” Ron Wyden told The American Prospect.
  • More Republicans are "looking to help us perhaps land to compromise," Cory Booker recently said.

Last month, a long-awaited U.S. Senate legislation that would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis on the federal level, while also promoting social equity, was unveiled. Known as the Cannabis Administration And Opportunity Act (CAOA) — by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senators Ron Wyden and Cory Booker — the bill proposes a comprehensive marijuana reform. 

Since then, however, CAOA came under a lot of criticism. It's too complex, critics say, and many cannabis industry experts such as Cantor Fitzgerald’s Pablo Zuanic and Emily Paxhia, co-founder of cannabis investment fund Poseidon Asset Management, agreed that the chances of the bill passing the Senate are dim.

“There is too much packed into CAOA for this to get through," Paxhia recently told Benzinga. "This was a Hail Mary bill put forth by Schumer and the supporting democrats."

Wyden Agrees Compromise Is Necessary 

Now, Sen. Wyden seems to be taking a similar stance, citing how challenging it will be to get CAOA passed the Senate. 

“A 50-50 majority in the Senate will make passing our bill a difficult feat, but I hope we can, at minimum, pass some key reforms this Congress,” Wyden told The American Prospect. “This is a winning issue that is overwhelmingly backed by the American people, especially young voters, who understand how ridiculous and unfair it is for folks to be locked away for something that most states have legalized and almost everyone thinks should be legal.

He also called CAOA “cannabis reform done right.” 

“By descheduling cannabis, our bill empowers states to set their own laws and it fixes the myriad of issues caused by current prohibition, like banking and research. But it goes even further by setting up a federal regulatory system to protect public health and safety, all while prioritizing restorative and economic justice to help undo decades of harm.”

Is Booker Still Optimistic? 

Sen. Booker recently revealed he is still enthusiastic about federal cannabis decriminalization while signaling possible compromise. He also hinted at the possibility of his chamber passing a marijuana banking measure with certain social equity components, before taking action on the CAOA.

"I'm actually gaining enthusiasm,” Booker told Pix11. “We have more and more state senators coming on to the major bill, and now more Republicans stepping up looking to help us perhaps land to compromise.

The idea of compromise was surprising to say the least, as Booker previously opposed the passage of the SAFE Banking Act on its own, due to worries that the bill doesn’t tackle restorative justice. That’s why some believed that the revealed “optimism” was just a mask for the concerns around the fate of CAOA.

Photo: Benzinga Edit; Sources: Wikimedia Commons and Ramdlon, ganjaspliffstoreuk by Pixabay

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Posted In: CannabisGovernmentNewsPoliticsMarketsGeneralCannabis Administration and Opportunity ActCAOAChuck ShumerCory BookerEmily PaxhiaFederal Cannabis Legalizationmarijuana reformPablo ZuanicPix 11Ron WydenSAFE Banking Act
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