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Schumer’s cannabis bill would end prohibition

Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker and Ron Wyden held a press conference yesterday to introduce their draft bill of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.  The bill would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, but states would still set their own policies. 

“It’s more appropriate to say that the bill would end the federal prohibition on cannabis, rather than legalize it,” wrote Jonathan Havens, the co-chair of cannabis law at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP, on LinkedIn. “States would still be able to set their own policies, although they wouldn’t be able to prohibit transportation through their state. This is similar to the approach taken by the 2018 Farm Bill with respect to hemp.”

Focus on equity, not profitability 

The bill says administration would shift from the DEA to the FDA. It would expunge criminal records for non-violent cannabis offenses, and create grants and loans to those in communities most-impacted by the war on drugs. Tax rates would start at 10% and would increase to 25%. In five years, it would be set at a per/ounce or per/mg of THC rate.

Strong words against SAFE

Sen. Cory Booker didn’t mince words when asked if regulators would support the SAFE Banking Act first, which would make raising money and completing transactions easier.

“I will lay myself down to do everything I can to stop an easy banking bill that’s going to allow all these corporations to make a lot more money off of this as opposed to focusing on the restorative justice aspects.”

Will it pass?

According to Havens, the bill isn’t a sure bet to pass through the Senate. “Sixty votes will be required for passage, and it’s not even clear that all 50 Senate Democrats support the measure, let alone that 10 Republican Senators would support the same,” he wrote. 

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