WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer introduced a bill which would remove marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances, allowing states to determine their own cannabis policies without fear of federal interference. Sen. Schumer (D-NY) announced his intention to file the bill in late April following statements by the Trump administration signaling that it would support legislation that would leave cannabis policy to the states.
The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, cosponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), would specifically remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, decriminalizing the substance at the federal level and allowing states to determine their own cannabis policies without the threat of interference. The bill also provides funding to cannabis businesses owned by women and people of color through the Small Business Administration; funds studies on traffic safety, impairment detection technology, and health effects of cannabis; restricts advertising that could appeal to children; and sets aside $100 million over five years to help states develop streamlined procedures for expunging or sealing prior cannabis convictions.
“We commend Senator Schumer for joining the growing chorus of Congressional leaders stepping forward with alternatives to the failed prohibition of marijuana,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “With millions of Americans already living in states that successfully regulate adult-use cannabis and support for national legalization at record levels, this legislation would finally align federal marijuana policies with mainstream voter sentiment.”
This is the second comprehensive cannabis policy reform bill introduced this month. On June 7, Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) introduced the STATES Act, which creates exemptions in the Controlled Substances Act for states that have made cannabis legal for medical or adult use. There are several other pieces of cannabis-related legislation also being considered in Congress.
The introduction of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act also comes a day after voters in Oklahoma approved a medical cannabis ballot initiative, making it the 30th state with an effective medical cannabis law.
A Quinnipiac University poll released in April found 63% of Americans support legalizing marijuana and 70% oppose federal interference with state-authorized cannabis programs. Cannabis is legal for adults in nine states and the District of Columbia, and there are currently 46 states that allow cannabis in some form.