Senate

Schumer asks for input as Democrats finalize cannabis bill

Top Senate Democrats are asking their colleagues for input as they work to finalize cannabis reform legislation, with the aim of introducing a bill this spring. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) sent a letter to their colleagues to invite them “into the drafting process as we work to finalize this legislation.”  

“In order to appropriately address such a nuanced issue, we respectfully request the input, advice and guidance of Chairs and Ranking Members of relevant committees as well as senators who have dealt with the challenges and realities of legalization in their own states,” they wrote. 

“We would deeply appreciate your willingness to share your expertise on the intersections between your committees’ jurisdictions, your states’ experiences, and comprehensive cannabis reform and invite you to join the process of perfecting this legislation. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this issue with you in the weeks ahead,” the three senators added.  

The letter comes after Schumer indicated during a press conference last week that he was aiming to introduce the legislation as soon as April that would lift the federal prohibition on cannabis and allow state-compliant cannabis businesses to have access to financial services such as bank accounts and loans.  

“As majority leader, I can set priorities. This is a priority for me,” Schumer said during the press conference.  

The three Senate Democrats have been working on a bill for months, including introducing a draft last year.  There’s broad support for legalizing marijuana. A 2021 Pew Research poll found 60 percent of respondents support legalizing it for both medical and recreational use and an additional 31 percent support legalizing it only for medical purposes. But Democrats face an uphill battle in the Senate, where they need GOP support.  

“As more and more states move to legalize cannabis for both adult and medical use, the federal government has an important role to play. Hundreds of millions of Americans live in states that have legalized cannabis in some form while it remains illegal at the federal level. This discrepancy leads to confusion and uncertainty and raises significant questions around criminal justice reform, economic development and small business growth, and public health and safety, all of which we believe require some type of federal answer,” the three senators wrote in the letter on Thursday. 

Tags Cannabis Charles Schumer Chuck Schumer Cory Booker drug legalization marijuana legalization Ron Wyden
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