Three US senators announce plans for major federal marijuana reform

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and fellow Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden formally announced Monday that they are working together to advance comprehensive marijuana reform legislation.

Schumer talked last week about pushing for legislation that would legalize marijuana federally but allow states the freedom to choose their own direction.

In an interview with former NBA basketball player Al Harrington, Schumer also discussed directing tax revenues to minority communities most affected by the war on drugs.

Schumer, a New York Democrat; Booker, a New Jersey Democrat; and Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, all have been big advocates of federal marijuana legalization in recent years.

“In the early part of this year, we will release a unified discussion draft on comprehensive reform to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations,” the three Senators said in a joint statement.

The statement added that input from stakeholder groups “will be an important part of developing this critical legislation.”

Investment analysts say that Democratic control of both chambers of Congress and the presidency offers the best hope yet for substantial federal marijuana reform, but analysts also caution that obstacles remain.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat and co-chair of the Cannabis Caucus, said in a statement that he’s excited the senators are prepared to move forward with comprehensive marijuana legislation after being blocked from doing so by former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

Blumenauer noted that the MORE Act, passed by the U.S. House in December, serves as a “great foundation” for such legislation.

“We look forward to working with the Senate to refine the bill, advance its core principles, and end the federal prohibition of cannabis once and for all,” Blumenauer said.

“The missing ingredient in cannabis reform has been Senate action. To finally have the active leadership of the new Senate majority leader, rather than being stuck in McConnell’s legislative graveyard, makes all the difference in the world.”

– Jeff Smith