During a recent appearance on Green Enterprise Special Edition, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that when marijuana is federally legalized, he will prioritize opportunities for smaller operators. He described how he would model federal reform legislation after New York’s recently enacted marijuana law and give particular focus on social equity.
Schumer is working alongside Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Sen. Cory Booker on a forthcoming cannabis bill with small businesses in mind. He’s also adamant about distributing tax revenue from cannabis supplies sales effectively.
“We’re going to make sure that the money that’s made doesn’t just go into the federal treasury, but goes into good kinds of activities in terms of restorative justice, dealing with community violence initiatives, and dealing with so many other things—community centers and things that will have kids have a great place to go and some hope so they won’t get caught up by the drug dealers and anybody else,” said Schumer.
Schumer remains confident that a comprehensive legalization bill can pass Congress. He pointed out the increasing destigmatization of cannabis and the growing Republican support for cannabis. On Monday, several Republican members of Congress introduced a bill to federally legalize and tax cannabis as a substitutive to pending far-reaching, Democratic-led reform proposals.
But many cannabis industry leaders aren’t as confident as Schumer. They believe leadership should seek out modest and bipartisan reform to protect the banking industry the serves the state-legal cannabis businesses first. In September, Schumer said that he and his colleagues have an “agreement” that the body will not address cannabis banking legislation until more comprehensive legislation moves first.
Schumer insisted that he’s open to exploring alternatives for advancing banking reform if attention is paid to addressing social equity provisions of legalization, like expungements for prior cannabis convictions, to cite just one example.
“We don’t want the big boys to come in,” said Schumer. “After all the pain that’s been occurring in communities like … in Brooklyn, where I’m from—to have the big boys come in and make all the money makes no sense.”