July 14, 2021 -- U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, is co-sponsoring legislation that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would allow the federal government to regulate and tax marijuana sales for the first time and would stop the federal prosecution of people for possessing and selling the drug, The New York Timesreported. States could still make their own marijuana laws, however.
The bill calls for using money raised by taxing marijuana to help poor people and communities of color that have been unduly affected by marijuana laws.
Arrests and convictions for non-violent marijuana offenses would be automatically expunged, The Times reported.
"The War on Drugs has been a war on people -- particularly people of color,” a draft of the bill said, adding that it “aims to end the decades of harm inflicted on communities of color by removing cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances and empowering states to implement their own cannabis laws.”
But passage of the bill is highly uncertain because of strong Republican opposition in the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow majority, according to The Times.
President Biden has not said he supports such legislation.
Schumer signaled his intentions when he spoke on April 20, the unofficial holiday for marijuana smokers.
“Hopefully, the next time this unofficial holiday of 4/20 rolls around, our country will have made progress in addressing the massive overcriminalization of marijuana in a meaningful and comprehensive way,” he said at the time, the newspaper reported.
Co-sponsors were U.S. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.