Senate Democratic leaders have announced they will craft a comprehensive cannabis reform bill to push through the United States Senate.
Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) issued a joint statement regarding comprehensive cannabis reform in the 117th Congress.
Every “Congress” lasts two years, with the full House up for re-election and 1/3 of the Senate up to change following midterm and presidential elections.
“The War on Drugs has been a war on people, particularly people of color. Ending the federal marijuana prohibition is necessary to right the wrongs of this failed war and end decades of harm inflicted on communities of color across the country,” they said. “But that alone is not enough. As states continue to legalize marijuana, we must also enact measures that will lift up people who were unfairly targeted in the War on Drugs.
“We are committed to working together to put forward and advance comprehensive cannabis reform legislation that will not only turn the page on this sad chapter in American history but also undo the devastating consequences of these discriminatory policies. The Senate will make consideration of these reforms a priority,” they continued.
The senators plan to release a comprehensive cannabis reform plan “to ensure restorative justice, protect public health and implement responsible taxes and regulations. Getting input from stakeholder groups will be an important part of developing this critical legislation.”
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) is encouraging its members to email their Senators in support of the effort.
Many cannabis advocates, entrepreneurs, and professionals are happy about reform being on the horizon after such a strong commitment.
A comprehensive effort will be interesting to see.
Senate Democrats and Cannabis Reform
Schumer, Booker, and Wyden have been consistent supporters of cannabis reform. Wyden spoke at the 2019 NORML conference in favor of cannabis reform (pictured above). Booker and Schumer were strong supporters of cannabis bills in the last Congress.
The comprehensive cannabis reform will likely take some of the language of the MORE Act, which sought to protect the state markets, decriminalize possession, and expunge convictions, along with the SAFE Banking Act that sought to make it easier for cannabis companies to secure banking services.
Both the MORE Act and the SAFE Banking Act passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives in the last session of Congress, but neither even received a hearing in the Republican-controlled Senate, much less a vote.
Now with Democrats in control of the Senate with the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris to give them a majority, they are eager to push through several stalled bills, cannabis reform among them.
As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) seems eager to push cannabis reform despite their very thin majority. He is also working to ensure appointees to the U.S. Department of Justice are pro-cannabis.
Wyden is Chairman of the powerful Finance Committee which deals with taxation. It is the counterpart to the House Way and Means Committee.
While President Joe Biden has not endorsed full legalization, he has slowly come around to certain cannabis reform measures and appointed some pro-cannabis leaders.