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Will Congress legalize marijuana? Here’s where the bill stands

FILE: In this June 20, 2018, photo, marijuana and rolling paper used to smoke it, are displayed. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

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(The Hill) – Democratic senators leading a push to legalize marijuana say they are now on track to introduce legislation before recess in August, after initially announcing plans to file a comprehensive reform bill in late April.

The House of Representatives passed legislation on April 1 that would legalize marijuana nationwide. The bill – if passed by the Senate and signed by the president – would also get rid of criminal penalties for possessing or selling the drug.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) — who is heading the effort along with Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) — said in a statement on Thursday that he’s proud of the progress senators have made in “bringing this vital bill closer to its official introduction” before the recess in early August. 

Schumer said the bill, dubbed the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, 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 comes after Schumer said weeks back that senators behind the effort aimed to bring a reform bill forward later this month.

“We hope to do that toward the end of April,” Schumer said then. He also noted at the time that he has been reaching out to “a few Republicans to see what they want.”

Many Republicans are opposed to legislation legalizing marijuana, posing one of the biggest hurdles to Schumer getting such a measure 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. 

And some Democrats have also expressed reservations about recreational marijuana, presenting additional challenges to the party notching the necessary 60 votes for approval in the upper chamber.

Wyden in a statement said it was important for text of the bill to be produced “well before the August recess to continue building momentum for cannabis reform.”


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