Cannabis is legal in many states, but it’s still not legal on a federal level. This leads to a lot of confusion in terms of rules and regulations. Now a House congressman has filed a bill to prepare for federal cannabis legalization. Read on to find out if weed will finally be legalized throughout the country.
Next Steps in Preparing for Federal Cannabis Legalization
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) refiled a bill that will outline the steps towards federal marijuana legalization last week. The bill was called Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post- Prohibition Adult-Use Regulated Environment Act (PREPARE).
The bill provides guidelines on what the attorney general should be doing to create a regulatory system for cannabis similar to the one currently used for alcohol.
“With nearly every state adopting its own set of cannabis reforms, an end to federal cannabis prohibition is inevitable,” Joyce said in a press release. The Republican Congressman is also the co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus.
“Now is the time for the federal government to respect the will of our constituents and begin the conversation on fair and effective cannabis regulation. The PREPARE Act will give lawmakers a bipartisan platform to legislate not only a fair and responsible end to prohibition but also a safer future for our communities.”
Will the Bill for Federal Cannabis Legalization Pass?
This is not the first attempt made towards federal cannabis legislation. Other bills have been introduced in the past. So, will this one meet approval in the Republican-controlled house?
Certain house members have expressed a positive outlook on it moving forward.
“Americans across the political spectrum recognize that now is the time for cannabis reform, and the federal government should be ready to embrace and lead this change. Since the failed war on drugs began over 50 years ago, the prohibition of marijuana has ruined lives, families, and communities- particularly for communities of color,” said Jeffries.
“The PREPARE Act is one of the bipartisan solutions that will lay the groundwork to finally right these wrongs in a way that advances public safety and boosts our economy. I am grateful to Congressman Joyce for reintroducing this important bill and his leadership to help the federal government be ready for the inevitable end to cannabis prohibition,” he concluded.
Federal cannabis legalization was proposed last Congress when Democrats had a majority vote in the chambers and White House. It did not pass Senate although the majority led with a narrow vote.
Other bills are being introduced for incremental reforms that will address federal cannabis legalization in terms of marijuana banking and expungements. Similar bills stalled out in the last session.
What Does the Bill for Federal Cannabis Legalization Entail?
The current bill is almost identical to the bill filed last Congress with some minor changes. Here are the key points of PREPARE Act federal cannabis legalization bill:
- The attorney general would be required to create a “Commission on the Federal Regulation of Cannabis” within 30 days of its enactment.
- The commission would need to study state and federal regulatory models for alcohol and decide how they can adapt them to cannabis
- The commission must look at how marijuana criminalization impacts low-income, minority, and veteran communities
- The panel would need review the “lack of consistent regulations for cannabis product safety use, and labeling requirements” including those that pertain to youth, and the “lack of guidance for cannabis crop production, sales, intrastate, interstate and international trade”
- The panel would be required to come up with ways to regulate cannabis banking and research and ensure the “successful coexistence of individual hemp and cannabis industries, including prevention of cross pollination of cannabis and hemp products”
- The panel must research to determine the best recommendations on “efficient cannabis revenue reporting and collecting, including efficient and tenable federal revenue frameworks”
The report must be issued to Congress within 12 months of the bill passing.
Revisions to the Bill for Federal Cannabis Legalization
Although the bill for federal cannabis legalization is the same as the last bill that was introduced, there are some key changes.
For example, it was revised to make the panel look at “requirements to protect youth and reduce harms to youth”.
It also requires the House to appoint a commission member who is “an expert in the history of cannabis criminalization and the impact of criminalization on various communities, particularly minorities, medical patients, and veterans.”
The previous bill made the minority leader responsible for appointing someone who was “medically licensed with substantial knowledge and demonstrated research into cannabis use and medical treatments”. Under the new bill, that would be the majority leader’s responsibility.
The old bill tasked the majority leader with appointing a medical cannabis expert or advocate. The new bill does not require that role.
The new bill would also appoint someone who had been incarcerated for non-violent cannabis use, a substance abuse expert, a representative from a nonprofit or trade organization of highly regulated cannabis goods, and two people with experience developing state-level regulatory systems.
These people would be appointed by the attorney general and congressional leaders.
The bill also mandates “if after the commission is appointed there is a partisan imbalance of commission members, the congressional leaders of the political party with fewer members on the commission shall jointly name additional members to create partisan parity on the commission.
Political Opinions on the Bill for Federal Cannabis Legalization
Political opinions show support for the bill for federal cannabis legalization. Justin Strekal, founder of the marijuana reform group BOWL PAC said, “The PREPARE Act would ensure that Congress thoughtfully approaches regulating the rapidly growing legal consumer marketplaces at a time when a majority of Americans live in a state that has legalized adult-use cannabis.
“With Congressional precedent to pass a bill to end prohibition and expunge prior marijuana charges, the biggest remaining unknown is how to properly and efficiently address labeling, advertising, public health concerns, and other post-prohibition regulatory aspects that have yet to be approached in a bipartisan way and this bill can be the vehicle to do just that.”
Senator Cory Brooker (D-NJ) has also expressed confidence saying that he believes a “comprise legislation” could be worked out this session.