The trio of lawmakers behind the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) has invited their colleagues to provide input as they finalize the legislation, which is expected to be formally introduced this spring.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), the bill’s main sponsors, sent a letter to their colleagues Feb. 10, urging them to provide their feedback on the bill, which was initially released in draft form last summer.
“We write today to invite you into the drafting process as we work to finalize this legislation,” Schumer, Wyden and Booker wrote in the letter. “In order to appropriately address such a nuanced issue, we respectfully request the input, advice and guidance of Chairs and Ranking Members of relevant committees as well as senators who have dealt with the challenges and realities of legalization in their own states. We would deeply appreciate your willingness to share your expertise on the intersections between your committees’ jurisdictions, your states’ experiences, and comprehensive cannabis reform and invite you to join the process of perfecting this legislation.”
Industry stakeholders submitted their feedback on the CAOA by a Sept. 1, 2021 deadline for public comment, and Senate leadership has since faced criticism for the delay in the formal introduction of the bill.
“This issue, which we believe the Senate is long overdue in addressing, has implications across many areas of American politics and policy,” Schumer, Wyden and Booker wrote. “Following the release of the CAOA discussion draft, we received over 1,800 comments from a broad array of stakeholders, many with substantive and detailed policy recommendations. In the weeks ahead, we will continue the work of incorporating these comments as we aim to introduce legislation soon that is as comprehensive and as reflective of as many relevant views and voices as possible.”
Schumer announced at a Feb. 4 news conference that he will formally introduce the CAOA in April.
The legislation, which would federally decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, joins two competing House bills, the MORE Act and the States Reform Act, which also seek to deschedule cannabis at the federal level.