Decriminalizing Cannabis at the Federal Level: A Senate Hearing is Scheduled for July 26th.

us senate floor 2022

New Jersey Senator Cory Booker has scheduled a hearing next week to look at the negative harm created by criminalizing cannabis in order to begin navigating the idea of federal cannabis reform. The hearing is scheduled for July 26th, and with a Senate bill to federally legalize the medicinal plant expected to be coming almost immediately after, the coming days on the Senate floor could act as a major step towards national legalization (and regulation) of cannabis. 

The Senate bill, which is being spearheaded by Booker, along with backing support by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, has been anticipated on the Senate floor for quite some time, and while there is no definite day as of yet when the bill will be filed, sources say it could happen as soon as this week. Even if it doesn’t, Schumer continues to state that the bill will be introduced without question before the August recess. 

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act was first released over a year ago. The draft, which gives many advocates hope, has a laundry list of things it would look to accomplish in regards to cannabis: 

  • Federally deschedule cannabis 
  • Allow people to petition for resentencing 
  • Expunge prior convictions 
  • Remove consequences that intersect, such as immigration-related penalties 
  • Allow states to maintain authority to set their own cannabis policies 

It is a list that seems almost too good to be true, and it possibly is. While there are many in political office who support the federal legalization of cannabis, or if nothing else the descheduling, the CAOA bill passing is still a precarious hope at best. Most Republicans are expected to oppose the bill, despite the fact that there are now ten red states who have begun to legalize, decriminalize, or if nothing else, loosen their restrictions on cannabis, including Arkansas, Idaho, Missouri and South Carolina. With Democrats holding a marginal majority, and even some Democratic representatives seemingly unsure of how their vote will go, the grip CAOA has on passing the floor is tenuous at best – and even if it does pass – Biden’s feelings on cannabis (despite his February 2021 promises) have continued to oppose federal legalization. 

The bill itself has, in some form, passed the House seven times since introduction. So, at least they’re persistent? With the senate hearing less than a week away, all eyes will be on the floor July 26th.

Ours included. 

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Chicana journalist, editor, educator, and organizer in Sacramento whose sole focus is to shed light on stories on our most impacted and marginalized communities, but even more importantly, for those stories to humanize those normally left out. She is an Ida B Wells Investigative Journalism Fellow 2022 Finalist, a member of the Parenting Journalists Society, and has bylines in The Courier, The Sacramento Bee, The Americano, Submerge Magazine among others.

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