US: Senate Democrats to introduce cannabis decriminalization bill against odds

Senate Democrats introduced a bill Thursday that would federally decriminalize, regulate and impose taxes on cannabis products. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey and Ron Wyden of Oregon, the sponsors, revised the measure, which faces significant obstacles in the chamber, after circulating a draft version last year and receiving feedback from Senate committees.

Schumer said Thursday that views on legalizing cannabis have changed dramatically and about 90 per cent of Americans live in a state that has legalized it. “It is time that Congress catches up with the rest of the country,” he said on the floor. 

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would remove marijuana from the list of drugs covered by the Controlled Substances Act and eliminate federal prohibitions in states that have legalized it for individuals age 21 and older. However, states would retain control over whether production and distribution are allowed.

A total of 37 states, three territories and the District of Columbia have authorized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. And 19 states, two territories and the District of Columbia have approved it for recreational use. The bill would establish programs and funding to prevent cannabis use by children and adults younger than 21.


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