A new bill in the US Senate is looking to decriminalize marijuana at a federal level in the country, potentially ending what in the market has been a gray area as to the legality of cannabis businesses in America.
Sen. Cory Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act through Facebook’s (NASDAQ:FB) live video streaming on Tuesday (August 1). According to the office of the New Jersey Senator, the bill would retire cannabis from the federal list of drugs on the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) where it has shared a spot with cocaine and heroin.
In statement, Senator Booker said the current state of drug laws in the US is broken and in need of an update.
“[Drug laws] don’t make our communities any safer – instead they divert critical resources from fighting violent crimes, tear families apart, unfairly impact low-income communities and communities of color, and waste billions in taxpayer dollars each year,” Senator Booker said.
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Cannabis would become legal and states would be encouraged to change their current laws
The act would provide incentives to states that may not feel compelled to update their current stance on the drug and would also allow current prisoners to ask for a resentencing if they were arrested for marijuana related possession or drug-use crimes.
As part of joint statements, Queen Adesuyi, a policy associate at the Drug Policy Alliance called the bill the “most ambitious” piece of legislation related to cannabis in Congress.
“[T]he war on drugs has had disparate harm on low-income communities and communities of color,” Adesuyi said in the statement.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been opposed the decriminalization of cannabis. He has faced opposition from Senators and Governors who have adopted positive views on cannabis and the business around it.
The office of the Attorney General declined to comment for this story.
Recently, Sessions asked for support from Congress for a targeted look at medical cannabis users. In May, as reported by Leafly the Attorney General also asked for Congress members to drop protections on the use of medical cannabis at the state level.
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Potential impact of the bill if approved
In an email interview with Investing News Network (INN) Alan Brochstein, cannabis financial analyst with 420 Investor, said he’s admired Senator Booker’s commitment to legalization and wants to see the Marijuana Justice Act become law. However, he doesn’t expect it actually will anytime soon.
“I don’t expect this to pass,” he said. “My hope is that this legislation… will stimulate [a] conversation and education and perhaps get Congress to focus on at least a couple of the issues that the industry faces,” Brochstein added, pointing to the lack of research and issues with banking for companies in the market.
According to Brochstein if the act were to become law it would catapult the industry by removing a set of impediments currently blocking it.
“[The cannabis industry would take off, as all of the major impediments would be removed, including access to banking, research, interstate transport and the punitive 280E tax, among other issues. It would open capital markets as well,” Brochstein said.
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.