New Senate bill would create federal marijuana commission to prepare for legalization

Marking the 10th anniversary since Colorado voters approved marijuana legalization on the ballot, Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) announced Thursday that he would soon introduce a bill in Congress to prepare the country for a federal cannabis reform.

Specifically, the PREPARE Act (Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult-Use Regulated Environment Act (PREPARE)) would direct the Attorney General to create a commission to make recommendations on a marijuana regulatory system that models what is currently in place for alcohol.

The measurement is the same to an accompanying invoice which Representatives Dave Joyce (R-OH), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Brian Mast (R-FL) filed in April. Hickenlooper staff told Marijuana Moment that the Senate version will be officially introduced when the chamber returns from recess in mid-November.

The senator views the commission that would be created by the legislation as similar to a task force he formed when he was governor of Colorado to lead the implementation of legalization at the state level.

“Colorado pioneered the successful legalization of marijuana a decade ago, thanks in part to the Amendment 64 Task Force,” he said in a statement. Press release. “Federal legalization doesn’t need to start from scratch, and we need to prepare for its arrival.”

Hickenlooper recently attended an event with current Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) to celebrate the 10th anniversary of statehood legalization vote, which he had opposed at the time. He has since acknowledged, however, that many of his fears about the end of Prohibition have not materialized, particularly when it comes to youth cannabis use.

The new congressional measure “would provide lawmakers from all ideological backgrounds with the opportunity to engage in cannabis reform by creating a fair, honest, and publicly transparent process for the federal government to establish effective regulations to be enacted in the end.” of his 85-year cannabis ban,” according to a summary.

This would lead to the “development of a federal regulatory framework that will help ensure safety, accountability, and economic growth among the 45+ states that have enacted cannabis legalization to some extent” while taking into account the “needs, rights and unique laws of each state”. .”

The idea of ​​creating a “Commission on Federal Cannabis Regulation” could attract bipartisan support, especially among lawmakers who are reluctant to support legislation to fully legalize cannabis at the federal level.

That said, advocates have grown increasingly impatient with marijuana incrementalism in Congress, imploring lawmakers to follow the states’ lead and end the largely unpopular policy of cannabis criminalization.

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The House has passed a comprehensive legalization bill twice – and the Senate leadership tabled a separate reform measure in July – but it seems unlikely that the latter chamber will move forward with this proposal before the end of the session. in January.

Instead, the focus has been on moving a set of progressive cannabis reforms known colloquially as SAFE Plus, which is expected to include bipartisan marijuana banking legislation, as well as language on radiation and cannabis research.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Sunday that Congress is getting “very close” to package introduction and successciting progress he has made in talks with a “group of Republican senators.”

The PREPARE Act that Hickenlooper will introduce on the Senate side appears to be the type of legislation that could fit into this framework of incremental reform, but for now the focus is on self-rule.

“I’m thrilled that the PREPARE Act is being introduced in the Senate, making it not just more bipartisan, but bicameral, and bringing it one step closer to becoming law,” said Joyce, the House version’s sponsor.

“This legislation gives lawmakers on both sides of the aisle the answers they need to effectively engage in cannabis reform, regulate it safely and effectively, and undo the damage caused by the failed war on cannabis. cannabis,” he said. “With these answers, Congress can develop a much-needed federal regulatory framework that not only respects each state’s unique needs, rights, and laws, but also ensures a responsible end to Prohibition and a safer future for our communities. “

“I was proud to lead the introduction of this common sense bill in the House and to thank Senator Hickenlooper for pushing it forward in the Senate,” he added. “I look forward to continuing to work together to pave the way for more comprehensive reform.”

Here is what the bill would accomplish:

Require the Attorney General to establish a “Commission on Federal Cannabis Regulation” within 30 days of the bill’s proclamation.

The commission would be tasked with studying federal and state regulatory models for alcohol and making recommendations on how they might inform marijuana regulation.

Among other things, the commission’s report must look at the impact of the criminalization of marijuana, particularly as it relates to minority, low-income communities and veterans.

The panel would also examine the “lack of consistent regulations for the safety, use and labeling requirements of cannabis products” as well as the “lack of guidance for the production, sale, intra -State, Inter-State and International Cannabis”.

It is also expected to make recommendations on how to address cannabis-related banking and research obstacles, as well as measures to ensure the “successful coexistence of the individual hemp and cannabis industries, including the prevention of cannabis cross-pollination.” and hemp products”.

Members would further be mandated to study and make recommendations on “the effective reporting and collection of cannabis revenues, including effective and sustainable federal revenue frameworks.”

The panel would be required to report to Congress within 12 months.

The panel would include representatives from:

  • Department of Health and Social Services
  • justice department
  • agriculture department
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Interior Department
  • Department of Education
  • Ministry of Labour
  • Commerce Department
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
  • Food and drug administration
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • National Highway Safety Administration
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Small Business Administration
  • U.S. Trade Representative

This would also include a person formerly incarcerated for a non-violent crime related to cannabis use or possession, a substance use disorder prevention expert, a medical cannabis patient or advocate, a historical expert of the criminalization of cannabis, a medically cleared person with knowledge of cannabis use and treatments, a representative of a commercial or nonprofit organization representing adult goods and highly regulated consumer goods, and two individuals who have worked in development regulatory systems at the state level.

Some of the appointments would be made by the attorney general, and others would come from congressional leaders. The bill also contains a stipulation that “if, after the appointment of the commission, there is a partisan imbalance among the members of the commission, the leaders of the Congress of the political party with the fewest members to the commission will jointly appoint additional members to create partisan parity within the commission. ”

Attorney General Merrick Garland, for his part, said during his confirmation proceedings in the Senate that it’s a waste of federal resources prosecute those acting in accordance with state cannabis laws and recognized racial disparities in marijuana law enforcement.

After President Joe Biden ordered an administrative review of federal marijuana programming last month, the Justice Department was quick to say it discharge this obligation “promptly”.

Biden said this week that his separate mass pardon proclamation for federal marijuana possession offenses is one of the key things he has done to improve the lives of black Americans since taking office. However, it seemed exaggerate the practical impact of one’s action confusing relief with radiation.

Meanwhile, the House sponsor of a marijuana banking bill said he recently spoke with the Senate Majority Leader at an event in the White House and discussed the need to enact bipartisan reform this session.

Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) said he made the leader aware of the importance of his SAFE Banking Act and Schumer assured him the chamber was “working on it” and “going to get started” on reform.

Read the full text of Hickenlooper invoice below:

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Norman D. Briggs