Senate Democrats introduce bill to federally decriminalize and tax marijuana

Senate Democrats introduce bill to federally decriminalize and tax marijuana 2
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Senate Democrats introduce bill to federally decriminalize and tax marijuana after Biden said no one should go to jail for using cannabis

  • Biden proclaimed at a July 16 press briefing: ‘I don’t think anyone should be in prison for the use of marijuana. We’re working on the crime bill now’
  • Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Schumer first proposed a pot bill over a year ago but did not release text until Thursday
  • The bill expunges federal cannabis-related records and sets up funding for law enforcement to fight illegal cannabis production
  • It would require the DOT to research and develop a standard for marijuana-impaired driving and restrict marketing the drug to minors 
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Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday introduced a bill that would federally decriminalize marijuana and allows states to set up their own regulations on the cannabis industry. 

The bill came at long last to cannabis advocates and days after Biden proclaimed at a July 16 press briefing: ‘I don’t think anyone should be in prison for the use of marijuana. We’re working on the crime bill now.’ 

Biden was asked if he would be ‘honoring his campaign pledge’ to release all of those locked up for pot convictions from prison. The president has repeatedly says he does not support full legalization. 

Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Schumer first proposed a pot bill over a year ago but did not release text until Thursday. The legislation, called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, has a slim chance of passing the Senate, but portions of the bill could find their way into other packages that have a shot at passing before the end of the year. 

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The Senate Judiciary Committee has set up a hearing titled: ‘Decriminalizing Cannabis at the Federal Level: Necessary Steps to Address Past Harms’ for next week. 

The legislation includes priorities sought by Democrats and Republicans: it expunges federal cannabis-related records and sets up funding for law enforcement to fight illegal cannabis production. 

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday introduced a bill that would federally decriminalize marijuana and allows states to set up their own regulations on the cannabis industry

Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday introduced a bill that would federally decriminalize marijuana and allows states to set up their own regulations on the cannabis industry

The legislation includes priorities sought by Democrats and Republicans: it expunges federal cannabis-related records and sets up funding for law enforcement to fight illegal cannabis production

The legislation includes priorities sought by Democrats and Republicans: it expunges federal cannabis-related records and sets up funding for law enforcement to fight illegal cannabis production

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It would require the Department of Transportation to research and develop a standard for marijuana-impaired driving and restrict marketing the drug to minors. It would also establish grant programs for small business owners looking to enter the market, particularly those from areas affected by harsh drug laws in the past. 

Marijuana legalization has become widely popular over the past decade – 19 states now allow those 21 and older to enjoy the drug and 37 states have medical marijuana programs. 

Some advocates have expressed frustration with the Biden administration’s slow moves on marijuana. Earlier this month, Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Ed Markey, Kirsten Gillibrand, Corey Booker and Wyden sent the administration a letter calling on them to declassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, on par with marijuana. Others have called on him to pardon every federal prisoner for nonviolent weed offenses. 

According to a Gallup poll 7 in 10 Americans support full legalization of pot. 

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The bill’s path forward in the Senate would require not only the courting of 10 Republicans but a number of Democrats who have signaled to Politico that they are not on board. A bill called the SAFE Banking Act may be more likely to pass by year’s end and would allow banks to work with companies in the cannabis industry. 

In December the House passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which has a different regulatory and tax structure than the Senate bill. The Senate never took up the bill. 

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