Puerto rico government

3 Senate Democrats draft plan to end federal marijuana ban

Three leading Senate Democrats have a draft plan to end the federal cannabis ban and implement a series of programs to help communities that have been affected by the war on drugs, which have tended to disproportionately to be communities of color.

Senators Chuck Schumer, the majority leader; Ron Wyden of Oregon and Cory Booker of New Jersey announced the reforms early Tuesday. The reforms come as the public has increasingly supported the legalization of marijuana in recent years.

As part of their plan, states would be able to write their own cannabis laws and marijuana would be removed from the federal list of controlled substances within 60 days of its implementation. The bill would move regulatory jurisdiction from the Drug Enforcement Agency to the Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Commerce, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms. and explosives.

“Cannabis prohibition, a key pillar in the failure of the drug war, has caused substantial damage to our communities and small businesses, and in particular to communities of color,” said Wyden. “It’s that simple: Senators Booker, Schumer and I want to bring common sense to the federal government, end the ban, and restore the lives of those most injured and provide them with opportunities.

Currently, 18 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands have legalized recreational marijuana. Thirty-seven states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have legalized the medical use of marijuana. An April Pew Research poll showed 60% of Americans believe marijuana should be legalized for recreational and medical purposes.

Senators address media after weekly political lunches
U.S. Senator Cory Booker and Senatorial Minority Leader Chuck Schumer speak at a press conference following the Democrats’ weekly political lunch at the U.S. Capitol on June 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Alex Wong / Getty Images

“As Red and Blue states across the country continue to legalize marijuana, the federal government continues to lag woefully behind,” Booker said in a statement. “It’s time for Congress to end the federal ban on marijuana and reinvest in communities worst affected by the failed war on drugs.”

It’s unclear how much support the bill will garner in the Senate, as 10 Republicans are needed with all Democrats’ backing for the bill to cross the 60-vote threshold. Earlier this year, the House passed a bill with broad bipartisan support that would not subject banks that provide services to cannabis companies to sanctions from banking regulators.

Senators’ draft proposal says the measure “will ensure that Americans – especially black and brown Americans – no longer have to worry about being arrested or excluded from public housing or federal educational assistance.” higher for consuming cannabis in states where it is legal ”. For people and communities affected by the war on drugs, federal non-violent marijuana-related crimes would be done away with, and those currently serving jail time for a non-violent crime could seek a new conviction.

For communities affected by the war on drugs, the bill would create three grant programs aimed at restoring justice. A community reinvestment program would provide funding to nonprofit organizations to help those incarcerated under more draconian drug laws with reintegration services and job training.

The Small Business Administration would oversee the development of the other two programs, providing funds to states and communities for loans to small businesses in the cannabis industry and for licensing programs aimed at reducing barriers to entry into the cannabis industry. cannabis companies for individuals.

As with alcohol and tobacco, cannabis and its products would be subject to an excise tax. The tax rate would increase over a five-year period after enactment, starting at 10% and gradually increasing to 25% after five years. A tax credit that would cut the tax rate in half would be available to small cannabis businesses that have less than $ 20 million in sales per year.

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