A Democratic senator on Thursday introduced a new bill to legalize cannabis at the federal level, creating another avenue through which Congress could pass cannabis legalization. The bill, sponsored by Senator Tina Smith, would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and direct several federal agencies to develop regulations for cannabis.
The Substance Regulation and Safety Act requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop regulations for cannabis, create a national research institute to assess the risks and benefits of cannabis. Direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture to impose quality controls, and direct the U.S. Department of Transportation to study methods to detect THC-impaired driving.
The legal amnesty provisions would be “retroactive and would apply to any offense committed…before, on or after the date of enactment of this Act,” the bill states.
HHS would have to develop a “national strategy to prevent the use and abuse of cannabis by youth, with particular attention to the vaporization of cannabis products by youth. Also, the text of the bill states that the department would require to “regulate cannabis products in the same manner and to the same extent” as it does tobacco, with purchases permitted from the age of 21. It includes “applying all labeling and advertising requirements that apply to tobacco products under this Act to cannabis products.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection would be responsible for working with other agencies to develop policies to allow the import and export of cannabis.
The legislation also contains provisions on racial justice. For example, HHS would have to “consult with civil rights stakeholders” to determine “whether strategies and policies to prevent cannabis abuse are likely to have racially disparate impacts” within 100 days of the enactment of the bill.
The agencies responsible for making these regulations would have one year after the passage of the bill to finalize these rules.
Another bill will consider legalizing cannabis in the United States, with a vote expected in September. Democratic candidate Joe Biden, however, has not included cannabis legalization in his platform, preferring a more modest approach.