The U.S. Senate may soon have a formal marijuana legalization bill to consider, according to a report from Bloomberg on Thursday.
The news outlet reported that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is poised to introduce his Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act next week, a federal marijuana decriminalization bill that the cannabis industry has been waiting for since February of 2021.
That’s when Schumer pledged to make marijuana reform a priority in the Democratic-controlled Congress.
The senator even released a draft version of the bill last year, and a number of marijuana trade organizations offered feedback in the fall.
Several were concerned, for instance, about a proposed national 10% tax on marijuana products, which would increase to 25% over a three-year period, and said that would only embolden the illicit marijuana market.
As written, however, the draft bill would mean a seismic change in the industry landscape, because it would:
- Remove cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances.
- Continue allowing states to take the lead on regulating the industry.
- Eliminate Section 280E of the federal tax code for marijuana business.
- Create grant programs to help those affected by the war on drugs.
- Remove federal penalties for marijuana, and expunge nonviolent MJ-related criminal records.
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Even when the bill is introduced, Bloomberg reported the measure faces “long odds” in the 50-50 Senate, which requires 60 votes to overcome a filibuster and pass a bill.
The House of Representatives, by contrast, has twice now passed its own marijuana legalization bill, the MORE Act, but that measure has not even yet been granted a Senate hearing.