Are Democrats Serious About Legalizing Marijuana? – Opinion

In December 2012, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would have lifted the federal prohibition on marijuana. Senate Democrats also made history this summer with similar legislation. However, both bills include unnecessarily controversial provisions which make it question whether Democrats truly want to end the War on Weed.

The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, which former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R–Calif.) The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act, which was introduced by former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), in 2013, contained merely one sentence. It would have rendered the federal cannabis ban unapplicable for people who are in compliance with state laws. A bill that just removed cannabis from federal controlled substance lists would also be short, even with conforming amendments.

By contrast, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which passed the House last year with support from just five Republicans and never had a chance in the GOP-controlled Senate, was 87 pages long. They proposed new taxes and spending programs as well regulations, which were likely to anger Republicans, who would otherwise be willing to work with them to end the impasse between federal pot prohibition laws and state laws that permit medical and recreational marijuana use.

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D–N.Y.) The draft version of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, which Senator Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) presented on July 14th, doubles that approach. This is almost twice the length of the MORE Act.

Schumer’s bill will allow for state-licensed marijuana business owners, who are already licensed by their state and local governments. They would be overseen by the Food and Drug Administration, Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It includes detailed regulations for production, storage and transportation as well as packaging, labeling, advertising and sales. The bill would set the minimum age for national purchasing at 21. States would be restricted from setting a lower threshold.

It would establish a federal excise duty on marijuana at 10 percent, rising to 25% by the fifth year. This would add to often high-priced state and local taxes. The bill would use the revenue to fund three grant programs that help “individuals adversely affected by the War on Drugs”, as well as those who are economically and socially disadvantage.

Politico called Schumer’s bill a “long-shot bid for legal weed,” and it is not hard to see why. This burdensome and prescriptive proposal adds to the difficulty of an already difficult effort. Democrats have to decide whether or not they wish to legalize cannabis.