Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., will introduce a plan to legalize cannabis at the federal level Wednesday.
A source briefed on the timing told FOX Business the trio will hold an afternoon press conference to unveil a preliminary "discussion draft" of the legislation, dubbed the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.
Advocates have been awaiting Schumer's push for federal cannabis decriminalization since the lawmaker first teased plans back in April 2018.
At the time, Schumer said the legislation would remove cannabis from the list of scheduled substances under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970, maintain federal law enforcement’s authority to prevent marijuana trafficking from states that have legalized marijuana to those that have not and establish dedicated funding streams for women- and minority-owned marijuana businesses.
He also said it would allow federal regulators to prevent marijuana businesses from targeting children through advertising and make targeted investments in public health to better understand the effects of THC on the brain and the efficacy of medicinal marijuana for specific ailments.
In addition, Schumer noted it would provide funding for highway safety research to ensure federal agencies have the resources needed to assess the pitfalls driving under the influence of THC and develop technology to reliably measure impairment.
"For decades, young men and women, disproportionately young men and women of color, have been arrested and jailed for even carrying a small amount of marijuana. … Being rejected from job after job — because of this minor, minor deviation from the law," Schumer said during a Senate floor speech April 20 of this year, marijuana's unofficial American holiday. "I believe the time has come to end the federal prohibition on marijuana in this country."
He added during the speech that the legislation would include social justice provisions, federal taxes and regulations.
In addition to Schumer's efforts, the House of Representatives has made a push for a similar bill called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which was backed by Amazon in June.
However, any legislation on the matter is expected to face an uphill battle as not all Senate Democrats are on board with the proposals, including Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Jon Tester of Montana, according to Politico. The White House has also expressed that President Biden's position on the matter "isn’t the same as what the House and Senate have proposed."
"The president supports leaving decisions regarding legalization for recreational use up to the states; rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule II drug so researchers can study its positive and negative impacts; and, at the federal level, he supports decriminalizing marijuana use and automatically expunging any prior criminal records," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in April. "He also supports legalizing medicinal marijuana. So that’s his point of view on the issue."
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 18 states, two U.S. territories and Washington D.C., have legalized marijuana for recreational use to date.
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Legal cannabis sales in the U.S. passed $17.5 billion in 2020, an increase of 46% compared to $12.1 billion in 2019, according to Boulder-Colo.-based research firm BSDA. BSDA forecasts U.S. cannabis sales could reach $41.3 billion in 2026.