Thursday, June 28, 2018

Schumer Introduces Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act - New Legislation Would Decriminalize Cannabis At Federal Level

Formal Introduction of New Legislation Follows Schumer’s Announcement in April That He Now Supports The Decriminalization Of Cannabis – Original Co-Sponsors of Schumer’s Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act Include Senators Bernie Sanders, Tim Kaine and Tammy Duckworth
New Legislation Will Deschedule Cannabis At Federal Level, Take Steps To Help Women and Minority-Owned Businesses Enter Into The Cannabis Industry, Invest In Research To Fully Understand Effects Of THC On Driving And Public Health,
Schumer’s New Bill Will Also Authorize New Grant Program To Provide Incentives For States And Local Gov’ts To Adopt or Expand Expungement Or Sealing Programs For Convictions Of Simple Possession Of Cannabis
Washington, D.C. – Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) formally introduced new legislation to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. Specifically, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act removes cannabis from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act, effectively decriminalizing it at the federal level. The legislation allows states to continue to function as laboratories of democracy and ultimately decide how they will treat marijuana possession. The legislation, however, does not change federal authorities’ ability to prevent trafficking from states where cannabis is legal to states where is not. The bill also preserves the federal government’s ability to regulate cannabis advertising - just as it does tobacco - so that advertisers cannot target children. Schumer has long advocated for states’ rights when it comes to medical cannabis.
Leader Schumer’s new legislation also takes steps to help communities that have been disproportionally affected by our current cannabis laws. The bill includes authorization of grant programs designed to encourage states and local governments to allow individuals to seal or expunge cannabis possession conviction records, and it creates a new funding stream to help ensure that women and minority entrepreneurs have access to the new cannabis industries in their states. The bill also makes new investments in research to fully understand the effect of THC on both driving and public health – particularly in adolescents.  
Leader Schumer’s Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is cosponsored by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL).  
“The time to decriminalize marijuana is now,” said Senator Schumer. “The new Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act is about giving states the freedom to be the laboratories that they should be and giving Americans – especially women and minority business owners as well as those convicted of simple possession of marijuana intended for personal use- the opportunity to succeed in today’s economy. This legislation is simply the right thing to do and I am hopeful that the balanced approach it takes can earn bipartisan support in Congress and across the country.” 
A fact sheet on the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act can be viewed here. The full text of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act can be viewed here. A section-by-section summary of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act can be found here.
Specifically, Leader Schumer’s new legislation would:
  • Decriminalize Marijuana: The legislation would decriminalize cannabis at the federal level by descheduling it, which means removing cannabis from the list of scheduled substances under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970;
  • Respect States’ Rights: The legislation would maintain federal law enforcement’s authority to prevent cannabis trafficking from states that have legalized cannabis to those that have not;
  • Level The Economic Playing Field: The legislation would establish dedicated funding streams to be administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for women and minority-owned cannabis businesses that would be determinant on a reasonable estimate of the total amount of revenue generated by the cannabis industry;
  • Ensure Public Safety: The legislation would authorize $250 million over five years for targeted investments in highway safety research to ensure federal agencies have the resources they need to assess the pitfalls of driving under the influence of THC and develop technology to reliably measure impairment;
  • Invest In Public Health: The legislation would invest $500 million across five years for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work in close coordination with the Director of National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Commissioner of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to better understand the impact of cannabis, including the effects of THC on the human brain and the efficacy of cannabis as a treatment for specific ailments;
  • Protect Children: The legislation would maintain the Department of Treasury’s authority to regulate cannabis advertising in the same way it does tobacco advertising to ensure the cannabis businesses aren’t allowed to target children in their advertisements. The bill also allows the agency to impose penalties in the case of violations;
  • Incentive sealing and Expungement programs: The legislation authorizes grant programs to encourage state and local governments to administer, adopt, or enhance expungement or sealing programs for cannabis possession convictions. The bill provides $100 million over five years to the DOJ to carry out this purpose.