Hands on with the new federal cannabis bill


On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will introduce legislation that will decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, while establishing regulation at the federal level for the legal industries already existing in 37 states and the District of Columbia. 

The bill, deemed the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, was authored Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Sen. Schumer.

Key elements of the bill include the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and establishing federal regulatory authority while maintaining the authority of states to set their own marijuana policies and laws. It would also implement a federal excise tax that would rise gradually, eventually reaching 25 percent for larger businesses. 

The bill also contains key language related to social reform and equity that have been lacking in previous proposals. The bill would require immediate expungement of nonviolent marijuana-related arrests and convictions from federal records, and allows for those currently incarcerated to petition for resentencing. It also earmarks new tax revenue for restorative justice programs including establishing a cannabis justice office at the Justice Department to help fund job training, and assist with re-entry after incarceration.  The bill also promotes loans to small cannabis businesses owned and operated by members of racially or economically marginalized groups.


The bill calls for the transfer of primary agency jurisdiction over cannabis from the DEA to the FDA within the Department of Health and Human Services, TTB within the Treasury Department, and ATF, within the Department of Justice, as appropriate.

The bill sets 21 years of age as the minimum age requirement for purchase as well as setting a retail sales transaction limit to no more than 10 ounces of cannabis or its equivalent amount of any cannabis derivative.

As for the likelihood of success, it’s unlikely that this measure will be passed into law. While roughly 70% of Americans now support full legalization – Schumer has faced resistance to federal legalization within his own party. While this measure is a step back from full legalization, the inclusion of blanket expungement is likely to present substantial pushback from outside the Democratic party – as well as with some moderate members of the party itself.

Read the full bill proposal draft below.