Senator Schumer and others begin consideration of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act

Chuck Schumer Recently Began Considering the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act

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The Hill reported that “Thursday on the Senate Floor, US Senator Chuck Schumer announced that he would use his clout to make legislation ending the federal prohibition on marijuana a top priority.”

“Schumer doubled down on remarks a day earlier at a press conference introducing a draft of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which 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.

The legislation is also sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.).”

We engaged in an online search and found a draft copy of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act here.   

Reasoning Behind the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act

The Act indicates that reform is needed as more states legalize the adult and medical use of cannabis, as the need to prevent fear among Black and Brown Americans around prosecution at the federal level even though Cannabis is legal at the state level, the need to promote legal research and the need to expunge federal non-violent marijuana crime and the ability for “an individual currently serving time in federal prison for non-violent marijuana crimes to petition a court for resentencing.”

The background of the law indicates that it is clear “from current law in other contexts that we have the capacity to safely and responsibly regulate cannabis sales, possession, and use in a way that balances individual liberty with public health and safety.”

Removal of Marijuana From Controlled Substances Act

The Act would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act:

Sec. 101 of the Discussion Draft would remove cannabis (marihuana) from the Controlled Substances Act and direct the Attorney General to remove cannabis from the list of controlled substances in regulation within 60 days of enactment. A new definition of “cannabis” would be established within the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) under title 21 of the U.S. Code, which establishes requirements for food, dietary supplements, drugs (including biologics), devices, cosmetics, and other substances such as tobacco. This definition would retain the existing exception for hemp.

The Act would Recognize State Law as Controlling of Marijuana Legalization in Each State

Sec. 111 of the Discussion Draft would recognize state law as controlling the possession, production, or distribution of cannabis. Notwithstanding federal decriminalization, shipment of cannabis into a state in violation of state law is prohibited. In addition, the provision retains criminal penalties in the case of illegal cannabis diversion. Cannabis diversion is defined as (1) the unlawful possession, production, distribution, or purchase of 10 pounds or more of cannabis in violation of federal or state law, or (2) the unauthorized possession of 10 pounds or more of cannabis in any state or local jurisdiction for which tax has not been paid in accordance with local law. The provision clarifies that a state may not prohibit the interstate commerce of cannabis transported through its borders for lawful delivery into another state.

The Act would Establish 21 as the minimum age required to Purchase Cannabis 

Section 301 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), as amended by Sec. 502(b) of the Discussion Draft would establish 21 years of age as the minimum age required to purchase cannabis. A related provision would limit any retail sales transaction to no more than 10 ounces of cannabis or the equivalent amount of any cannabis derivative. This provision is intended to prevent illegal actors from purchasing large quantities of cannabis at retail in a cannabis-legal state and illegally trafficking that cannabis into other states with the purpose of circumventing state-level laws relating to the sale, production, or taxation of cannabis. Federal and state law enforcement has faced similar enforcement challenges related to the smuggling of contraband cigarettes purchased at retail.

Expungement of Arrests and Convictions For Non-violent Drug offenses at the Federal Level

Under this section, within one year of enactment, each federal district shall expunge any arrests and convictions, as well as adjudications of juvenile delinquency, for a non-violent federal cannabis offense. Each individual is to be notified by the federal district of their expungement. After the date of enactment, any individual with a prior conviction or adjudication of juvenile delinquency for a non-violent federal cannabis offense, who is not under a criminal justice sentence, may file a motion for expungement. Courts shall also seal all records related to a conviction or adjudication of juvenile delinquency that has been expunged.

In addition, this section allows any individual who is under a criminal justice sentence for a non- violent federal cannabis offense to obtain a sentencing review hearing. After the sentencing hearing, courts shall expunge each arrest, conviction, or adjudication of juvenile delinquency for a non-violent federal cannabis offense, vacate the existing sentence or disposition of juvenile delinquency, and seal all records relating to a conviction or adjudication that has been expunged.

An individual who received an expungement under this section may treat the arrest, conviction, or adjudication as if it never occurred, and shall be immune from any civil or criminal penalties related to perjury, false swearing, false statements, failure to disclose such arrest, conviction, or adjudication. However, an individual who received an aggravating role adjustment pursuant to the United States Sentencing Guideline 3B1.1(a) in relation to a federal cannabis offense conviction shall not be eligible for expungement of that conviction.

To be sure, this is draft legislation.  It is not on the senate or house floors.  It has not been introduced and is not in any committee.  As such we are not able to offer opinions on how this will assist your case at this time.  Assuming this does pass, it may go over several iterations before it becomes law. More on this as it develops.  

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