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Federal Cannabis Legislation: PREPARE Act

On Thursday, a bipartisan group of members of Congress presented a invoice it would require the United States Attorney General to lead a commission to oversee the process of recommending a cannabis regulatory system comparable to the current alcohol regulatory system. The bill, titled Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult-Use Regulated Environment Act (PREPARE Act), was introduced by Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), along with co-sponsor Rep. Hakeem Jeffries ( D-NY), and Brian Mast (R-FL).

According to the bill’s summary, the act will “establish a Commission on Federal Cannabis Regulation to study an expeditious and plausible path to the federal regulation of cannabis, and for other purposes.” The purpose of the law, according to the bill, includes:

The President and Congress must prepare the federal government for an inevitable and speedy end to federal marihuana prohibition by establishing a commission to advise on the development of a regulatory framework regarding the regulation of marihuana, including the consideration of the different characteristics of communities, agencies and industries affected by the federal marihuana ban. This regulatory framework should be based on federal and state alcohol regulatory frameworks.

The bill cites that cannabis sales generate revenue for the federal government, but those who use cannabis are still “criminally persecuted.” The bill also cites that cannabis has been shown to be medically beneficial for people “suffering from pain, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, among other illnesses.”

In a press release, Joyce said:

with 91% of Americans supporting the legalization of cannabis for medical or recreational use, it’s time for the federal government to respect the wishes of our constituents, both Democrats and Republicans, and start a serious conversation about what it should look like a post-prohibition America.

This implies similarities between the regulation of cannabis and that of alcohol.

The PREPARE Act is just one more in a wave of recent federal cannabis legislative proposals. Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Delisting Act (MORE Act) was originally proposed in 2020, and just passed in the House of Representatives by vote on March 31. Unlike the MORE Act, which aims to remove marijuana from the list of prohibited substances, the PREPARE Act focuses on creating a committee to make recommendations on how to regulate cannabis in the United States. states.

Other proposed federal cannabis laws include the States Reform Actintroduced last year by South Carolina Republican Rep. Nancy Mace, and the delay Cannabis Administration and Opportunities Act, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Recently, the Senate also adopted Cannabidiol and Marihuana Research Expansion Acta bill focused more narrowly on research efforts.

As with other federal cannabis laws (something good; bad), the PREPARE law faces an uncertain future. The bill is expected to pass through the House of Representatives on its way to the Senate, where Democrats hold a narrow majority thanks to Vice President Kamala Harris. Getting to the vote in the Senate would itself be a victory, as the 2020 edition of the MORE Act passed the House before losing support in the Senate before a vote could even take place.

Competing legislation could also hinder passage of the bill. Rep. Joyce voted against the MORE Act last month, showing that while many members of Congress support updated federal cannabis legislation, the way cannabis is reconceptualized by the legislation can significantly attract or deflect support from other people with the same goal.

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