Senate leader Schumer pushing federal marijuana legalization as priority

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he’s putting together a new federal marijuana legalization bill that would allow states freedom to “do whatever they’d like” and put tax revenues into minority communities most harmed by prohibition.

A New York Democrat who filed a marijuana descheduling bill in 2018, Schumer said his latest effort draws from a number of reform bills. He reportedly is working with both Democratic senators and some Republicans.

He talked about the approach to decriminalizing marijuana in an interview on Instagram Thursday with former NBA basketball player Al Harrington, who is CEO of Los Angeles-based cannabis company Viola Brands.

In addition to provisions to help minority communities, Schumer indicated that he wants an industry that isn’t taken over by corporations.

“I don’t want to see these big tobacco companies coming in and shoving everyone out,” he said.

The Democrats recently took control of both chambers of Congress, as well as the presidency, likely providing the best opportunity yet for federal marijuana reform.

In a research note Friday, St. Louis-based investment banking firm Stifel characterized Schumer’s leadership on the issue and the Democratic trifecta as a “Goldilocks” scenario for the American marijuana sector.

The development, Stifel said, “could foreshadow the most important catalyst in the history of the US cannabis industry,” while noting significant obstacles could yet come.

“We believe Sen. Schumer’s comments outline a bill that resembles the STATES Act, but includes social justice provisions, and could address obstacles (such as the onerous Section 280E tax provision) to have a significant positive impact on cannabis operators’ regulatory environment,” Stifel analyst Andrew Partheniou wrote.

Schumer appears to be trying to strike a balance between the social justice-focused Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, favored by progressives and embraced by the U.S. House in December, and a STATES approach, which might be more palatable in the conservative Senate.

In the Instagram interview, Harrington urged Schumer to include other stakeholders such as minorities in the discussions and negotiations.

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5 comments on “Senate leader Schumer pushing federal marijuana legalization as priority
  1. Jeffrey T Hudson on

    After waiting for decades to reform the onerous marijuana laws that were instituted to control something that should never have been labeled dangerous I hope Senator Schumer is successful in his efforts.

  2. Shane on

    I work for a company that contracts with the federal government. That means drug tests. Even if my home state has legalized cannabis use I could still be fired for using it because it’s federally illegal. Is whatever Chuck Schumer doing here going to help me and mine, or is it just another political step that’ll go nowhere?

  3. Michael C. Knight on

    Should never have been “criminalized” in the first place. Alcohol and intoxicated drivers have killed countless folks and STILL its promoted and glamorize and taxed and ALLOWED. Let’s get this going and allow something good and natural to help the country!!

  4. Mike on

    There have been multiple pieces of legislation attempted to be pushed through the senate by Democrats and they actually passed a decriminalization bill through the House in December, so…why are they reintroducing legislature now that they have the majority everywhere? Feels like a power play issue.

  5. Joe on

    I hope the federal government does not leave it up to the state “to do whatever it likes.” I hope the federal government enforces states to legalize. There are people in some states that would still be marginalized by “to do whatever it likes.” It’s disgusting to know states can sentence individuals to state prisons for marijuana possession. Free the people!!

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