The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (S. 4591), a proposed law in the US Congress, would acknowledge state-level marijuana legalization. Senators Cory Booker, Ron Wyden, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are the writers.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer declared on March 31, 2021, that he would soon present a federal bill to deschedule cannabis, similar to his 2018 Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act after New York legalized the drug under the 2021 Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. According to sources, a draught of the law would be introduced on July 14 according to Politico and other media.
Senator Schumer presented a discussion draught of the legislation on July 14, 2021.
Schumer announced on February 4, 2022, that the bill would be filed in the Senate of the United States in April of that year. Later in February, Schumer sent a letter requesting support from other senators and encouraging them to “join the process of polishing” the text. The unofficial cannabis holiday, April 20, 2022, was predicted to be the day the measure would be introduced by its backers. However, that date was then changed to “before August recess.” On July 21, 2022, the proposal was introduced in the Senate of the United States.
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act must be amended to include a new definition of cannabis in order to regulate the use of cannabis in foods, dietary supplements, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics. The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act also removes cannabis from the CSA. The current exclusion for hemp would still apply under the revised definition.
Cannabis possession, manufacture, and distribution would still be governed by state law. Despite federal decriminalization, bringing cannabis into a state in violation of state law would still be banned. Cannabis diversion, which is defined as the illegal possession, manufacture, distribution, or acquisition of 10 pounds or more of cannabis in violation of federal or state law, is subject to proposed federal criminal penalties. However, the legislation makes it clear that a state may not forbid the interstate transportation of cannabis via its boundaries for legitimate delivery into another state. The protections now in place for the interstate movement of hemp and products derived from hemp are comparable to this.
Programs for Opportunities and Restorative Justice
The measure establishes three grant programs with the goal of giving persons disadvantaged by the War on Drugs opportunities. These initiatives will give financing for nonprofit organizations, small business loans, and state cannabis licensing initiatives that lower obstacles for those who have been negatively impacted. States and localities must first take action to establish an automatic procedure for expunging criminal records for nonviolent cannabis offenses in order to qualify.
Each federal district must be required to order the expungement of all arrests and convictions for nonviolent federal cannabis offenses within one year of the effective date. The arrest or conviction may be treated as if it never happened by the person who receives an expungement, and they are protected from civil or criminal consequences for lying, making a false statement, or failing to report the arrest or conviction. A non-citizen may not be excluded from any immigration benefits or protections due to circumstances involving cannabis.
A Federal Sales License
Similar to what is required for alcohol goods, a sales permit from the US Department of Treasury would be necessary. Every cannabis product manufacturer would also need to register with the FDA. Facilities for the production of cannabis would have to be kept up to prevent tax avoidance or diversion. Additionally, manufacturers would have to keep a bond on file to guarantee that cannabis excise taxes are paid. If the premises are insufficient to prevent tax evasion or diversion, if operations do not adhere to federal or state law, or if an application fails to disclose material facts or makes a false statement, a federal cannabis license may be rejected or withdrawn.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act has received a range of responses. The CSA’s removal of marijuana from Schedule 1 will undoubtedly address several issues plaguing the cannabis business, including improved access to financial and insurance services. Better information on the effects of cannabis on the economy, public health, and safety should be obtained as a result of the legislation’s efforts to persuade the federal government to do extensive research and report on cannabis-related topics. The proposed bill’s provisions for restorative justice mark a significant departure from the norm.
However, many have expressed concern over a proposed 25% federal excise tax that would be added to already high state and local levies, making it challenging to combat a thriving black market. Concerns also exist over the FDA’s lack of information regarding how to regulate cannabis goods. Cannabis is a far more complex pharmacological drug than alcohol, despite the legislation’s main premise that it should be regulated similarly to alcohol. Therefore, it is plausible to question whether state regulations that conflict with the FDA’s final regulations on cannabis products will be preempted, despite the legislation’s claimed intention to maintain the states’ authority to set their own cannabis laws.
The bill’s Senate authors are currently seeking public feedback with the intention of proposing the final version for a floor vote after the summer break. The Cannabis Administration and an Opportunity Act’s draught bill offers a solid glimpse of what comprehensive federal marijuana legalization would look like when it eventually passes, even though the final version of the bill is unlikely to be signed into law.