Senate Democrats Introduce a Cannabis Decriminalization Bill
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On Thursday, July 21, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a bill that would legislate the removal of the federal ban on cannabis, which could effectively decriminalize the drug across the nation.
If passed by the Senate, this Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would:
- Remove cannabis from the US’s list of federally controlled substances.
- Expunge thousands of federal cannabis-related crimes.
- Allow states to choose how they manage cannabis legalization, including the option of maintaining prohibition.
- Introduce grants for cannabis entrepreneurs from communities that have been disproportionately affected by the drug’s criminalization.
- Increase funding for law enforcement for illegal cultivation.
- Require that the US Transportation Department develop a nationwide standard for cannabis-impaired driving.
Most political observers agree, though, that the bill is unlikely to pass. At least 60 of the Senate’s 100 senators would need to vote for it; most Republican senators are unlikely to show support and several Democrats have also hinted that they may not back the bill.
But even if the bill is rejected, there’s hope that many of its policies will find their way into other bills that could pass before the end of the year.
Some lobbyists say that the momentum from the bill could also help boost the chances of other existing cannabis bills, such as the SAFE Banking act, a bill that was re-introduced to the House of Representatives last year and, if passed by the Senate, would allow banks to service cannabis businesses without fear of federal repercussions.
“One of the opportunities that will open up as we move towards legalization is the Small Business Administration,” Sarah Chase is the executive director of the Council for Federal Cannabis Regulation (CFCR), a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, told Analytical Cannabis earlier this year.
“Especially if we get something like SAFE Banking passed, they will be able to provide loans, grants, and opportunities for small businesses, minority-owned businesses, and rural businesses.”