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Senate Majority Leader Unveils Bill to End Cannabis Ban

July 15, 2021

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, yesterday announced their bill to deprogram cannabis at the federal level. Called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, the legislation remains in draft form and will be circulated to Senate Democrats for comment and revisions before being officially introduced later this year. “This is a historic day,” Booker said at a joint press conference. “This is the first time in US history that the US Senate Majority Leader has called to end the ban on marijuana.”

The 163-page bill is both comprehensive and ambitious. Its most notable provision is to remove cannabis completely from the Controlled Substances Act and transfer authority over it from the DEA to the FDA. While the FDA would be responsible for product health, safety, and oversight, taxes would be administered by the TTB, with jurisdiction “generally following similar agency responsibilities established for alcohol and tobacco.” according to the official summary. The bill would also remove the ban on interstate trade and even explicitly allow cannabis to be transported across banned states from one legal market to another. Taxes would start at 10% and gradually increase to 25% over the next five years.

While the bill itself marks a historic milestone for the U.S. cannabis industry, its chances of adoption are fragile. Schumer admitted that they planned the bill as a bill so that it could be further shaped to gain support from reluctant caucus members. “It’s going to be a process,” he said. “We don’t have the necessary votes at this stage but we have a large majority for it. We are going to ask our colleagues “What can you support here?” We are going to do something.

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA), which spoke in favor of legalization in 2018 and earlier this year, presented a series of recommendations for federal legalization in a guidance note, calling the project starting point to responsibly and safely end America’s federal cannabis ban.—Danny Sullivan

Read SND Cannabis Edition, in inboxes every Tuesday, to stay up to date with the latest developments in the emerging cannabis industry.

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