U.S. Senators Reintroduce Proposed Legislation Seeking to End Federal Prohibition of Cannabis

On May 1, 2024, Senators Booker, Schumer, and Wyden reintroduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (“CAOA”), a groundbreaking piece of legislation aimed at ending the federal prohibition of cannabis, a day after the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) recommended reclassifying cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III. The bill reflects the overwhelming support among Americans, with 91% favoring legalization for either adult or medical use. Senator Booker emphasized the need to address the injustices of the War on Drugs, particularly its disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. Leader Schumer highlighted the importance of federal policy aligning with public attitudes toward cannabis, emphasizing safety, research, workers’ rights, and restorative justice. Senator Wyden stressed the significance of prioritizing public health, safety, and social justice in cannabis reform efforts.

The CAOA establishes a federal regulatory framework to safeguard public health and safety, promote restorative and economic justice, and empower states to regulate cannabis laws according to their constituents’ preferences. It removes cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, directs funds to prevent youth cannabis use, and enhances support for substance abuse treatment. Additionally, the bill addresses public safety concerns by regulating impaired driving, combatting black market activities, and incentivizing states to adopt cannabis open container laws.

Moreover, the CAOA regulates and taxes cannabis by transferring federal jurisdiction to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, implementing excise taxes, and promoting market competition. The bill also encourages cannabis research by funding studies on legalization impacts and clinical trials on medical cannabis use. It prioritizes restorative and economic justice by reinvesting tax revenue in affected communities, expunging past convictions, and supporting individuals adversely impacted by prohibition.

Furthermore, the CAOA strengthens workers’ rights by removing unnecessary drug testing for cannabis, ensuring protections for cannabis industry employees, and funding education and enforcement initiatives. This reintroduction of the CAOA underscores a comprehensive approach to cannabis reform, addressing various aspects from public health and safety to social justice and economic empowerment.

The text of the bill can be found here. A summary of the introduced CAOA can be found here.

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