The cannabis community has been sniffing around for the last month trying to find out what Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer thinks when he talks about the sweeping cannabis reform bill he plans to pass this year. All evidence suggests that the U.S. Senate will hear laws legalizing the paper nationwide.
However, the intentions of the eagerly anticipated bill, which Schumer says will be introduced “soon,” are becoming clearer. And the focus seems to be “decriminalization” rather than legalization. When Schumer was asked recently Whichever model of reform he supported, his response suggested that the two terms were one and the same. “At the federal level, it’s called ‘decriminalization’ because it allows states to legalize,” he said.
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However, legalization and decriminalization are not the same thing. As we’ve seen in several states, legalization enables a taxed and regulated cannabis market where adults 21 and older can buy weed in a similar way to beer. Decriminalization is a term that usually describes the removal of criminal penalties associated with low pot ownership. It still penalizes pot offenders with small fines and it doesn’t come with the infrastructure to legally grow and sell weeds.
Interestingly, Schumer said a few weeks ago that the Senate’s cannabis reform plan would prevent Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol from taking over the cannabis market. There have been lobbying efforts that point in this direction. But Schumer claims they won’t get very far with his proposal.
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Still, it seemed unlikely to deter them from participating if a taxed and regulated market were to develop. It’s a free country and everything, and capitalism is the name of the game. So anyone with enough money to play can take part. But companies would not have a foothold if the Senate Democrats drove decriminalization. There would be no national market. Presumably, the Democrats hope to remove criminal sanctions and reassure states about legalization. Many jurisdictions have refused to legalize until the federal government eased their stance.
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“We don’t want the big tobacco companies and the big liquor companies rushing in and taking over,” he said. Senator Schumer said in a video. “The legislation we have is going to ensure that smaller businesses, businesses in color communities, get the benefit because color communities have paid the price for decades. You should at least get something back. “For decades,” Schumer continued, “young men arrested with a small amount of marijuana in their pockets served long sentences, and then they committed an offense and could never behave properly.”
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Perhaps the goal of the Senate Democrats’ Cannabis Reform Act is to provide a safe way for smaller cannabis companies to operate in their respective states without worrying about the corporate takeovers that would surely result if federal legalization were to take place. At this point we can only speculate.
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All in all, it makes the most sense to go down the path of decriminalization. After all, President Biden supports the concept of decriminalizing marijuana. It was part of his campaign platform. So if the Senate Democrats could find a way to get a bill of congressional decriminalization – something that won’t be easy given their small majority and filibuster – it would surely be put into the bill.
Rest assured, there are plenty of roadblocks to any model the Democrats propose. We just have to wait for the invoice to be submitted for more clarity on the details. One thing is for sure, it will be interesting to see what a smart scheme the Senate Democrats have to push this legislation fully forward.