The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act Hits the Ground Running.

CAOA legislation

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) has officially been filed. A piece of legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), the highly anticipated bill aims to federally legalize marijuana, and in theory, promote social equity. 

The newly filed bill, which is nearly 300 pages long, is a far cry from the original draft of the bill. Introduced over a year ago, the first draft was a little over 150 pages. The added weight of the newest, and finalized, bill comes from the multiple provisions attached, which came from a variety of info sessions and closed door sessions. On top of the more intimate discussions, nearly 1800 comments were submitted in regards to the first draft of the bill. 

Quite a few cannabis advocates and stakeholders are excited by the prospects that could come should the CAOA pass and make it through. There are many, however, who are concerned about the myriad of provisions that didn’t exist originally, and what those provisions would actually mean in terms of the federal legalization of cannabis, including what legal reform would look like for the tens of thousands of men and women who are currently incarcerated within the federal prison system for cannabis related charges. 

Proponents of the bill note that while many changes have been made, such as the need to federally set and implement a driving-while-impaired standard in relation to cannabis, the spine of the bill has remained the same. 

The decision to file the CAOA came only days after Sen. Cory Booker scheduled a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing for July 26th entitled “Decriminalizing Cannabis at the Federal Level: The Necessary Steps to Address Past Harms.” It was the initial scheduling of that hearing that prompted recent speculation that the filing of the CAOA would be forthcoming, and will now more than likely act as a centerpiece for the hearing. 

Per a press release issued by Sen. Cory Booker: 

“As more states legalize cannabis and work towards reversing the many injustices the failed War on Drugs levied against Black, Brown and low-income people, the federal government continues to lag woefully behind. With strong restorative justice provisions for communities impacted by the drug war, support for small cannabis businesses, and expungement of federal cannabis offenses, this bill reflects long overdue, common sense drug policy.” 

Despite the introduction, how far the bill itself will actually travel will remain to be seen.

[image source: by Crispin Jones on Unsplash]

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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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