Senate Democrats plan to introduce a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level next week, reports Bloomberg. The legislation faces long odds in the evenly divided chamber due to the opposition of Senate Republicans.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer worked with Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon on the measure. The senators circulated a draft of the bill last year and made tweaks after feedback from Senate committees.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would remove marijuana from the list of drugs covered by the federal Controlled Substances Act. States, unfortunately, can still maintain and create prohibitions on production and distribution of marijuana.
The legislation faces a steep climb in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to pass most meaningful bills. Most Republicans and a few Democrats, including Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Jon Tester, have opposed decriminalizing marijuana.
The bill would create grant programs to aid communities and individuals impacted most by the drug war. It would establish funding programs to provide loans to small marijuana businesses owned by disadvantaged individuals.
The federal government would have to expunge nonviolent weed-related convictions and arrests within one year of the bill’s enactment.
House Passed Federal Decrim In April
The House voted in April to decriminalize marijuana, expunge federal convictions on Cannabis-related charges and impose taxes on marijuana producers and importers.
The legislation passed 220-204 with support from almost all House Democrats and just three Republicans.
Only two Democrats voted against the bill.