WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reportedly is discussing with other congressional leaders a bipartisan omnibus cannabis bill that would grant new provisions for small business loans, criminal justice reform, medical research, veteran support, and banking access for the legal cannabis industry.
Schumer met with Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) in early June at an International Cannabis Bar Association conference where the two discussed the potential for a bipartisan effort to tackle criminal justice and banking reform measures. According to Politico, they specifically talked about the possibility of combining the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act sponsored by Reps. Joyce and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Act introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO). As a standalone bill, SAFE passed in the House last year by a vote of 321 to 101, with 106 Republicans voting in favor of the federal banking reforms. HOPE has not yet seen a vote in the House; however, the expungement-focused bill has only five cosponsors even with support from both sides of the aisle.
Schumer also has stated his intention to introduce the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) with co-drafters Sen. Cory Booker (D-NY) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) before the month-long congressional recess that begins on Saturday, August 6. The proposed bill would recognize the legalization of cannabis by the states, establish federal regulations and a comprehensive tax structure for cannabis, and remove the plant from the federal list of controlled substances, where it currently stands alongside heroin, LSD, MDMA, methaqualone, and peyote.
But according to Marijuana Moment reporter Kyle Jaeger, in addition to banking and expungement, multiple sources indicate lawmakers are actively discussing what could become an alternative and much larger omnibus bill with proposals for veterans’ access to medical marijuana, expansion of clinical research, drug sentencing reforms, and the inclusion of the cannabis industry in federal Small Business Administration programs to provide loans and other services that currently are available for American businesses in other industries. Sources involved in the negotiations have stressed that “a deal has not been reached and talks are tentative at this point.”