Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Announces Updates to Bill to Federally Legalize Cannabis

Published on: 

In February, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer explained in a press conference and in a letter to colleagues the details of his bill to federally legalize cannabis and announced his plan to introduce it in the coming weeks.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced his plans to file a bill in April 2022 to federally legalize cannabis (1,2). He also said in a letter to colleagues that he and other senators have already received comments on the draft from a broad array of relevant sources and are requesting input from leaders of relevant committees and from senators who have dealt with legalization in their own states.

Schumer first disclosed details about his Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act (CAOA), which he unveiled in draft form for public comment in July 2021, and he expects committee hearings on the proposal shortly after it’s formally filed.

“One major hurdle continues to stand in the way of states’ ability to make their own decisions about cannabis—the continued prohibition of marijuana at the federal level,” said Schumer. “As more and more states move to legalize cannabis for both adult and medical use, the federal government has an important role to play. Hundreds of millions of Americans live in states that have legalized cannabis in some form while it remains illegal at the federal level.”


The proposal would federally deschedule cannabis, expunge prior convictions, allow people to petition for resentencing, maintain the authority of states to set their own cannabis policies, and remove collateral consequences such as immigration-related penalties for people who’ve been criminalized over the plant.

The bill would also impose a federal tax on cannabis products and direct some of that revenue to grant programs meant to support people from communities most impacted by the prohibition who want to participate in the industry. It would transfer regulatory authority over cannabis from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).