The comprehensive legislation would end the federal prohibition of cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, grant states the authority to enact their own cannabis laws, ensure that federal regulation safeguards public health and safety, and give economic and restorative justice top priority.
Following more than 1,800 comments and collaboration with multiple Senate Committees, senators improved and enlarged their discussion draft from last year. Cannabis Administration And Opportunity Act: Text may be accessed HERE, a summary of the CAOA introduction can be obtained HERE, and a summary of changes made to the CAOA discussion draft can be accessed HERE.
In Washington, D.C. The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), a comprehensive piece of legislation, was introduced today by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). The CAOA would end the harmful and antiquated federal prohibition on cannabis by removing it from the list of controlled substances and giving states the authority to enact their own cannabis laws. Patty Murray (D-WA), chair of the HELP Committee, and Gary Peters (D-MI), chair of the HSGAC Committee, also co-sponsored the bill.
The law establishes a federal regulatory framework to safeguard public health and safety
The law establishes a federal regulatory framework to safeguard public health and safety, prioritizes economic justice and restorative justice to help undo decades of damage brought on by the failed War on Drugs, eliminates discrimination in the provision of federal benefits based on cannabis use, makes significant investments in cannabis research, and strengthens worker protections. By decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level, the CAOA also ensures that state-legal cannabis firms and individuals in related fields won’t be barred from bank accounts or other financial services due to their affiliation with the drug.
Last year, a discussion draft of the CAOA was made available along with a call for feedback from interested parties. The discussion draft proposal, which the senators are formally submitting today, was improved and expanded upon after collecting more than 1,800 comments and working with multiple Senate committees. Here is a complete list of changes made to the CAOA discussion draft. Sen. Booker stated that the federal government “continues to lag hopelessly behind” as more states legalize cannabis and try to undo the numerous injustices that the failed War on Drugs committed against Black, Brown, and low-income people.
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With robust restorative justice provisions for communities affected by the drug war, support for small cannabis enterprises, and the expungement of federal cannabis charges, this law embodies long overdue, sensible drug policy. Together, Senators Schumer and Wyden and I are happy to have introduced this important piece of legislation. The backing we have gotten from committee chairs and outside organizations emphasizes how important it is that Congress enact this bill because it is historic.
“The federal ban on cannabis and the War on Drugs has been a war on people, and particularly people of color, for far too long,” stated Leader Schumer. The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act will spur change by removing cannabis from the federal list of restricted narcotics, safeguarding public health and safety, and expunging the criminal records of those who commit minor cannabis infractions, giving millions of people a fresh start. Congress must take action by trying to eliminate decades of excessive prohibition since the majority of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana. The federal ban on cannabis needs to be lifted.
“There is no longer any debate over whether marijuana should be legalized. The states are moving forward, and not only do the vast majority of Americans support legalization, but they also currently reside in a place where cannabis in some form is legal “Sen. Wyden stated. “I’d like to implore my Senate colleagues to consider carefully the implications for public safety and health of having the federal government mired in the past. Inaction on the part of the federal government fosters the growth of the black market for cannabis, destroys lives, supports systemic racism in our criminal justice system, and prevents local cannabis businesses from expanding and generating jobs in their neighborhoods. The time has come to legalize marijuana, and Congress ought to join the movement.”
Sen. Murray stated that it is past time for the federal government to adopt cannabis laws that are on par with those of Washington State. “Justice, boosting our economy, and bringing the federal government into the twenty-first century are the three goals of this law. This proposal will repeal egregiously unfair and racially biased laws that have disproportionately hurt people of color. By formally recognizing the cannabis business and updating federal regulations, this bill would also boost our economy. I’m determined to see that this law benefits Washington State, which has pioneered the nation in sensible cannabis regulations.
Sen. Peters declared that the bill “makes key adjustments to bring federal cannabis policy in step with where the majority of the country already is and in keeping with what Michiganders have already voted for.” “By legalizing cannabis on a federal level, we can protect public health and safety, support cannabis businesses as they expand, create jobs, and seek safe, dependable access to banking services, as well as right past wrongs for many Americans – particularly people of color – who have been unjustly punished for minor, nonviolent cannabis offenses.”
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Law on Cannabis Administration and Access:
ensures that cannabis producers are licensed and that their products are consistently labeled. It also protects public health by establishing strict cannabis health and safety standards under the US Food and Drug Administration, requiring states to prohibit the possession of cannabis by people under the age of 21, mandating that states keep cannabis out of the hands of those under the age of 21, and requesting input from the VA and IHS on the use of cannabis for medical purposes. protects public safety by putting in place stringent anti-diversion regulations, including a track-and-trace system, adopting quantitative retail purchase restrictions to stop the production and distribution of cannabis on the black market, creating grants to help small law enforcement agencies hire and train officers, and starting a new initiative at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to combat drugged driving and multiple drug impairment.
Prioritizes restorative and economic justice by removing barriers to the cannabis industry, expanding access to loans and capital for business owners harmed by the failed War on Drugs, and ending discrimination in the provision of federal benefits — like federal housing or federal student loans — based on cannabis use.
regulates and taxes cannabis by transferring federal cannabis regulation from the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) within the Treasury Department. This law also recognizes the special characteristics of cannabis products while implementing a regulatory system that is similar to that of alcohol and tobacco. Additionally, it introduces an excise tax on cannabis goods and removes the tax code’s prohibition on cannabis enterprises deducting business expenses.
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encourages cannabis research by requiring more federal research into the effects of cannabis on health and public safety, establishing clinical trials through the VA to study the effects of medical cannabis on the health outcomes of veterans, compiling industry-related data and trends, and creating grants to increase cannabis research capacity at higher education institutions, with a focus on minority-serving institutions and Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
ensures worker protections for those working in the cannabis industry and strengthens workers’ rights by eliminating pointless pre-employment and random drug testing of federal employees for cannabis while maintaining appropriate testing for some sensitive job categories, such as national security, law enforcement, and commercial transportation.