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New York Sen. Schumer, other Dems introduce bill to end federal marijuana prohibition

Senate leaders on Thursday introduced a bill that would end the federal prohibition of marijuana, allowing states to set their own laws on the matter without fear of reprisal from the federal government. 

Led by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) would “end the harmful and out-of-touch federal prohibition on cannabis by removing cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances and empower states to implement their own cannabis laws.”

Schumer, along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., unveiled a draft version of the bill just over a year ago. 

The senators say the latest version of the bill will establish a federal regulator framework to protect public health and safety, prioritize restorative and economic justice, provide investments for cannabis research and strengthen worker protections. 

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The lawmakers say that decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level will ensure that state-legal cannabis businesses — or those in “adjacent industries” — will no longer be denied access to bank accounts or financial services because of the nature of their business. 

The version of the bill was revised and redrafted after receiving more than 1,800 comments and working with various Senate committees.

“For far too long, the federal prohibition on cannabis and the War on Drugs has been a war on people, and particularly people of color,” Schumer said in a statement. “The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act will be a catalyst for change by removing cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances, protecting public health and safety, and expunging the criminal records of those with low-level cannabis offenses, providing millions with a new lease on life.”

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