Although more than half of the states in America have decriminalized marijuana at some level, with eighteen states fully legalizing recreational use of marijuana, cannabis remains illegal on the federal level, classified as a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Last week, Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, reported that he plans to introduce a draft bill in the United States Senate that would decriminalize marijuana by de-scheduling it from the Controlled Substances Act.

The proposed bill, penned “The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act,” is intended to address individuals impacted by the War on Drugs. The main objective of the bill is to decriminalize and de-schedule marijuana from the list of controlled substances. However, the bill also includes other initiatives, including the proposed expungement of certain cannabis offenses from federal records. Additionally, the bill calls for all marijuana sales to be taxed, with the allocation of new tax revenue to be put towards restorative justice programs. Some legislators have discussed alternatives to this provision which would see states continuing to make decisions about the taxation of cannabis on their own.

Moving forward, the bill would create a space for the marijuana industry to be able to comply with federal laws and regulations; yet, states would remain in control of their own marijuana laws. This would not only allow individuals the ability to sell marijuana, without the risk of federal punishment, but further the opportunity to create marijuana businesses with access to financial services, such as federally insured banks and participation in interstate financial transactions. Thus, making this proposed legislation one of the more important bills to follow.

If you have any questions regarding the proposed legislation, please contact a member of the Rhoades McKee Cannabis Law Services Team.

This alert was drafted with assistance by Rhoades McKee Law Clerk, Erykah Ross (MSU JD, ’22).

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