Five Key Proposals in Congress' Latest Legalization Effort

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The draft of the Senate's Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act was released July 14 in Washington, DC. The bill's co-sponsors are three Democrats: Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY), Cory Booker (NJ) and Ron Wyden (OR). It would legalize cannabis and create programs for those most targeted by prohibition. 

Here are five proposals in the draft, which is posted here.


1. Removal from Controlled Substances Act, Transfer of Federal Agency Function

Sec. 101 of the Discussion Draft would remove cannabis (marihuana) from the Controlled Substances Act and direct the Attorney General to remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances in regulation within 60 days of enactment. A new definition of “cannabis” would be established within the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) under title 21 of the U.S. Code, which establishes requirements for food, dietary supplements, drugs (including biologics), devices, cosmetics and other substances such as tobacco. This definition would retain the existing exception for hemp. 


2. Evaluate Societal Impact of Legalization on States

Sec. 201 of the Discussion Draft would direct the Comptroller General to conduct an evaluation of the societal impact of legalization by states with adult-use of cannabis. Under this provision, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) evaluation is required to include a number of (or any change to) societal metrics that may be impacted by legalization, including traffic-related deaths and injuries, hospitalizations and poison control center calls, violent crime rates, employment statistics, rates of cannabis use, and various other criteria. The Comptroller General has two years to complete the evaluation and submit a report to Congress. 


3. Opportunity Trust Fund Programs and Small Business Administration Programs

Sec. 301 of the Discussion Draft creates three grant programs aimed at creating opportunity for those harmed by the War on Drugs. The Community Reinvestment Grant Program will fund nonprofits that provide services to individuals adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, such as job training, reentry services and legal aid, among other services. The program will be administered by a newly established Cannabis Justice Office within the Office of Justice Programs at the Department of Justice. 


4. Imposition of Tax on Cannabis Products

Section 5901 of the Internal Revenue Code, as added by Sec. 401 of the Discussion Draft, would impose an excise tax on cannabis products in a manner similar to the tax imposed on alcohol and tobacco. The general rate of tax would be 10% for the year of enactment and the first full calendar year after enactment. The tax rate would increase annually to 15%, 20% and 25% in the following years.


5. General Provisions Regarding Agency Jurisdiction

Sec. 102 of the Discussion Draft would transfer primary agency jurisdiction over cannabis regulation from the DEA to FDA and TTB [Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau]. The provision also directs the heads of such agencies to enter into a memorandum of understanding regarding their respective responsibilities. Specifically, FDA would be recognized as the primary federal regulatory authority with respect to the manufacture and marketing of cannabis products.


Bonus Proposl

The Act would also change the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, Firearms and Explosives and change the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to the Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis Tax and Trade Bureau.


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.