Press Release

Senate Leaders Release Preliminary Draft of New Cannabis Legalization Bill

Jul 14, 2021


Senate Majority Leader Schumer, Sen. Booker, and Sen. Wyden Release Preliminary Draft of New Cannabis Legalization Bill

Statement below from the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s leading cannabis reform organization 

Washington, D.C. — On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) held a press conference to introduce a preliminary draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, a new bill that would end federal cannabis prohibition.

As currently drafted, the bill would make the following changes to federal cannabis policies:

  • Deschedule cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act;
  • Allow states to craft their own cannabis policies, just as states do with alcohol;
  • Expunge federal records of arrests and convictions for non-violent cannabis offenses and allow for resentencing;
  • Create a regulatory framework and federal excise tax for cannabis; and
  • Establish a grants program to fund nonprofits to help those impacted by the war on cannabis, as well as programs to help equity applicants and states get access to funds for equity programs.

“For justice reform, for equity, for individual liberty, and countless other reasons, it is time to respect the will of the American people and legalize cannabis. I am heartened by the Booker, Schumer, Wyden bill draft, which is a promising first step towards Senate passage, and hopeful that it will lead to negotiations and bipartisan support for an inclusive and equitable legal cannabis industry,” said Steven Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project

“As the nation’s leading organization fighting to legalize cannabis, MPP plans to add its insight, culled from years of advocacy, to the discussion to help shape a national framework that transforms the country’s criminal justice system, mitigates the harms wrought on communities most impacted by prohibition, and provides social and economic equity and opportunity for all.”

In May of this year, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) reintroduced the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. The bill passed the House of Representatives last year, but it did not advance in the Senate. 

The Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, a bill that would prevent federal regulators from punishing financial institutions that provide services to state-legal cannabis businesses, passed the House earlier this year. A Senate version of this bill has been introduced and currently has 39 cosponsors. 

Since November 2020, eight states have either approved ballot initiatives or enacted legislation to legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis for adults. This brings the total number of legalization states to 19 (in one state, South Dakota, the law has been suspended pending a court ruling). According to a 2020 Gallup poll, 68% of Americans support marijuana legalization, including nearly half of Republicans.

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