Democratic senators leading a push to legalize marijuana say they are now on track to introduce legislation in the Senate before the August recess, after initially announcing plans to file a comprehensive reform bill later this month.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has been leading the push to legalize cannabis along with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), said in a statement Thursday that he’s proud of the progress they’ve made “bringing this vital bill closer to its official introduction” before the recess in early August.
That said, the long-anticipated Senate bill to federally legalize cannabis will have to simmer until the democratic leadership works out various provisions “with the assistance of nearly a dozen Senate committees and input from numerous federal agencies.”
The bill, Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAOA), will remove cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances and “help repair our criminal justice system, ensure restorative justice, protect public health, and implement responsible taxes and regulations,” among other measures.
The announcement came after Schumer said several weeks ago that he and the senators behind the effort had intended to bring the reform bill forward in late April.
“We hope to do that towards the end of April,” Schumer said then, noting that he was reaching out to “a few Republicans to see what they want.”
Many Republicans are opposed to legalizing cannabis, which poses one of the biggest hurdles to Schumer getting his bill through the 50-50 split Senate. To secure passage, Democrats would need the support of their entire caucus and at least 10 Republicans to bypass a likely filibuster.
However, some Democrats have also expressed reservations regarding adult-use marijuana, which presents additional challenges to the party getting the necessary 60 votes for approval in the upper chamber.
Wyden said in a statement that it was important for the text of the bill to be produced “well before the August recess to continue building momentum for cannabis reform.”
The Thursday announcement comes weeks after the House passed its own legislation, known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE), to remove marijuana from the federal controlled substances list.