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marijuana legalization

via Elsa Oloffson / Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) released a new proposal on Wednesday to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would decriminalize marijuana federally and regulate it like alcohol and tobacco. The wide-ranging proposal has elements that are designed to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans.

The proposal has provisions that are crucial to progressives. It expunges all federal non-violent cannabis offenses and offers grant programs to help those who've been hurt by the war on drugs. States that want to be eligible for grant funding must also create an automatic expungement program for prior cannabis offenses.

The bill also caters to Republicans by promoting states' rights. It allows them to make their own independent cannabis laws, even if that means prohibiting possession and production.

Currently, 18 states have full weed legalization, and 37 allow for medical use.

The rules would also make it easier for cannabis companies to run a legitimate business by allowing them to access the banking system, apply for loans, and get listed on stock exchanges.

The proposed legislation looks to regulate and tax an industry that is projected to be worth over $100 billion in annual sales by 2030. Legislators propose an introductory 10% tax on products that would rise to 25% after five years.

"By ending the failed federal prohibition of cannabis, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act will ensure that Americans—especially Black and Brown Americans—no longer have to fear arrest or be barred from public housing or federal financial aid for higher education for using cannabis in states where it's legal," the senators write in the draft.

"State-compliant cannabis businesses will finally be treated like other businesses and allowed access to essential financial services, like bank accounts and loans. Medical research will no longer be stifled," the statement continued.

via Lindsay Fox / Flickr

The proposal shouldn't have any problems gaining the support of the average American. A Pew Research poll from 2019 found that 67% of Americans support legalizing marijuana. However, that sentiment isn't mirrored in the Republican Senate.

Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) oand Mike Rounds (R-SD) are opposed to federal legalization although their states have legalized weed for recreational use. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) are open to federal decriminalization if it allows states to choose their own policies.

Going forward, Schumer, Wyden, and Booker's offices are openly looking for comments from the public, lawmakers, the cannabis industry, and law enforcement agencies, until September 1.

"We'd certainly listen to some suggestions if that'll bring more people on board," Schumer said in a statement. "That is not to say we're going to throw overboard things like expungement of records — very important to us — and other things like that, just 'cause some people don't like it."