Key U.S. Senate leaders held a meeting with marijuana stakeholders on Friday, the first formal step toward crafting a new bill to federally legalize cannabis.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) heard from a group of advocates and stakeholders as the trio prepares to unveil draft reform legislation “in the early part of this year.”
The senators released a joint statement announcing the plan earlier this week that decried the failures of marijuana criminalization and called for a federal policy change that prioritizes repairing the harms of prohibition. Getting input from stakeholders is part of that process, they said.
Around the virtual table on Friday was a mix of representatives from advocacy groups and the cannabis industry, according to five people who attended the meeting and spoke to Marijuana Moment about it.
The discussion lasted a little over an hour and included staffers from NORML, Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), Students for Sensible Drug Policy and other organizations affiliated with the Marijuana Justice Coalition. Business-focused groups such as the National Cannabis Industry Association and Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA) were also present.
Discussion topics ranged from the regulatory structure for marijuana to tax policy to social equity. The senators didn’t go in-depth into the details of the forthcoming reform proposal, but they signaled that they would incorporate feedback from these organizations and others as they move forward.
One commitment from the start, according to attendees, is that the Senate bill will at a minimum deschedule cannabis and seek to regulate it with a justice- and equity-focused approach. Booker is expected to be the lead sponsor of the legislation when it is filed, and it will likely be referred to Wyden’s committee.
Published: February 08, 2021