Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer recently announced at a press conference that he’s planning on filing his long-awaited bill to federally legalize cannabis in April.
Similarly, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler also discussed the progress of his separate legalization bill.
Both lawmakers detailed their plans to end prohibition during an event in New York City which included House Small Business Committee Chairwoman Nydia Velazquez, advocates with the Drug Policy Alliance, New York lawmakers, and other organizations.
February 4 was a somewhat eventful day for federal marijuana policy as the House passed a large-scale bill that incorporated the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.
This is the sixth time the House has passed the reform.
Schumer stated that they are ramping up their outreach in the coming weeks and will introduce the final legislation in April. It would then be followed by the nationwide push to get the federal law done, spearheaded by New York.
Although most of President Biden’s marijuana promises remain unfulfilled, Schumer’s plans on federal cannabis reforms seem more likely.
Advocates were motivated when Schumer first revealed details about his Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAOA) in July for public comment.
However, his procrastination concerning its formal introduction made them somewhat impatient in the months that followed.
The Senate leader has now set a more precise timeline; he said separately in a meeting with activists that he looks forward to committee hearings on the proposal as soon as it is filed.
Schumer added that they have some Republican support. However, this isn’t clear whether he’s referencing GOP cosponsors on the bill or general support from lawmakers and voters across party lines to end the ban.
He also said that they are “happy and willing to listen” to ideas from other Senators as long as it prioritizes social and economic justice.
Even if the hearing starts quickly following an April introduction, it’s quite unlikely that it will pass and proceed to the President’s desk by April 20 (4/20) – the unofficial cannabis holiday.
During the Friday event, Schumer and Nadler pointed out that comprehensive equity will only be achieved once federal prohibition is lifted.
The New York senator added that they want to renew the “case of comprehensive marijuana reforms” that mends the suffering inflicted by the war on drugs at a federal level.
Although New York has been at the forefront of cannabis reforms, Schumer said that federal law should also be changed since it usually creates problems.
The majority leader’s office has engaged various stakeholders and advocates concerning his legalization measures and the SAFE Banking Act.
Schumer and colleagues have insisted on the need for passing comprehensive legalization before banking. However, Rep. Ed Perlmutter, the sponsor of the banking bill, told Marijuana Moment that there might be an avenue to back his legislation through both chambers.
Last year, Schumer stressed that he wants to keep the “big boys” out of the cannabis industry to create opportunities for small-scale operators once marijuana is legalized at the federal level.
Schumer stated that he doesn’t want the big boys to come in and make profits after many communities have undergone pain over the years. According to him, his upcoming bill would help accomplish that.
Once marijuana gets legalized at the federal level, it would open numerous opportunities for small-scale operators to start their marijuana dispensaries.
Selling glass bongs and other marijuana products would significantly help them financially. Schumer emphasized that his reform bills would restrict the ability of large alcohol and tobacco businesses to dominate the industry.
In his reform bill, the New York politician also addressed tax distribution from cannabis sales. Essentially, Schumer said they would ensure the entire revenue doesn’t end up in the federal treasury.
It will also be channeled to suitable activities, including restorative justice and assisting with community violence issues.
Nadler also discussed his Marijuana Opportunity, Reinstatement and Expungement (MORE) Act.
It also seeks to promote social equity besides ending federal prohibition in the sector like the CAOA Act. Nadler said that the War on Drugs, especially the criminalization of cannabis, has been a failure and brought untold suffering to many Americans, particularly within minority groups.
He expressed that he is proud to stand with Senator Schumer and other legislators to lead the way in reforming the cannabis laws and bringing justice to those who’ve been affected by destructive and unfair policies.
Even though various states have already legalized both medical and recreational marijuana, the federal prohibition still challenges the sector’s growth. Nonetheless, Schumer’s cannabis legalization plan seems to be promising.