Coalition pushes for federal marijuana legalization as chagrin with Biden grows

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A bipartisan coalition of business and advocacy groups, including the powerful billionaire Koch family, issued a white paper this week with recommendations for federally legalizing marijuana like alcohol or tobacco.

The 14-page white paper by the recently formed Cannabis Freedom Alliance came at the same time legalization advocates expressed increasing frustration with President Joe Biden’s stance on marijuana as exemplified by his response to sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson’s exclusion from the U.S. Olympic team for using the drug.

“The rules are the rules, and everybody knows what the rules were going in. Whether they should remain the rules is a different issue, but the rules are the rules,” Biden said last weekend about the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to suspend Richardson 30 days and nullify her 100-meter dash victory at the U.S. Olympic trials in Oregon in June.

Kassandra Frederique, executive director at the Drug Policy Alliance, noted the “inconsistencies” at the federal and state levels.

“Sha’Carri reportedly used marijuana in Oregon – a state where adult use is legal. These inconsistencies force people to be stuck in the middle, navigating unclear rules and being faced with lifelong consequences,” Frederique said in a statement.

“We must end the drug war once and for all so that no one is subjected to contradictory and punitive rules about what they can and cannot put in their own bodies.”

The disparate worlds of thought regarding marijuana also come as legalization advocates wait still longer for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to unveil his comprehensive marijuana reform bill.

The Cannabis Freedom Alliance was launched in April.

The organization includes:

  • Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce.
  • The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity.
  • Libertarian think-tank Reason Foundation.
  • Law Enforcement Action Partnership.
  • A criminal justice-reform initiative called Mission Green.

The coalition recommends removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act to resolve the current conflict between federal and state laws.

In the white paper, the coalition espouses several goals:

  • Establish a regulatory framework that spurs innovation and research as well as ensure public safety.
  • Ensure that individuals previously involved in the illicit market have opportunities in the legal market.
  • Create low barriers to entry so that large companies and new entrepreneurs can compete on a level playing field.
  • Ensure that the total tax burden doesn’t encourage a continuing gray or illicit market and instead contributes to a vibrant and competitive global industry.