Senator Files Bill To Prepare For Federal Marijuana Legalization With Alcohol-Like Regulations

Senator Files Bill To Prepare For Federal Marijuana Legalization With Alcohol-Like Regulations

Credit: Marijuana Moment

A Democratic senator has refiled a bill that’s meant to lay the groundwork for federal marijuana legalization.

Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) introduced the legislation—titled the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult-Use Regulated Environment Act (PREPARE) Act—on Thursday.

The incremental reform would direct the attorney general to create a commission charged with making recommendations on a regulatory system for cannabis that models what’s currently in place for alcohol.

It’s largely identical to a House companion version filed by Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) in April, with some additional provisions related to commission membership and directives. The bill was introduced for the first time last session in both chambers, but it did not advance.

Hickenlooper, who served as governor of Colorado when voters approved a first-ever recreational cannabis legalization initiative in 2012, which he campaigned against at the time, said in a press release on Monday that his state “is the model for a safe, well regulated marijuana market.”

“Let’s build on that success with federal regulation,” he said.

Here’s what the bill would accomplish:

Require the attorney general to establish a “Commission on the Federal Regulation of Cannabis” within 30 days of the bill’s enactment.

The commission would be responsible for studying federal and state regulatory models for alcohol and make recommendations about how they could inform marijuana regulations.

Among other things, the commission’s report must look at the impact of marijuana criminalization, particularly as it concerns minority, low-income and veteran communities.

The panel would also examine the “lack of consistent regulations for cannabis product safety, use and labeling requirements,” including those related to youth safety, as well as the “lack of guidance for cannabis crop production, sale, intrastate, interstate, and international trade.“

It would also need to make recommendations on how to remedy cannabis-related banking and research barriers as well as address measures to ensure the “successful coexistence of individual hemp and cannabis industries, including prevention of cross pollination of cannabis and hemp products.”

Members would further be mandated to study and make recommendations on “efficient cannabis revenue reporting and collecting, including efficient and tenable federal revenue frameworks.”

The panel would be required to issue a report to Congress within 12 months.

The bill was revised for the new Congress to make it so the commission would also have to look at “requirements to protect youth and reduce harms to youth” as part of its directive to assess the lack of consistent safety standards in marijuana regulations.

The Senate version from Hickenlooper also differs from the current House bill in that it includes an extra responsibility for the commission to propose measures to “alleviate and remedy” any “disruptions to established State and local regulatory systems with regard to cannabis as a result of Federal regulation.”

Unlike last Congress, the legislation now requires the House minority leader to appoint a commission member who is an “expert in the history of cannabis criminalization and the impact of criminalization on various communities, particularly minorities, medical patients, and veterans.”

Previously, the minority leader was tasked with appointing someone who was “medically licensed with substantial knowledge and demonstrated research into cannabis use and medical treatments.” That would instead be the majority leader’s responsibility under the amended bill, whereas the previous version would have had the majority leader appoint a medical cannabis patient or advocate, a role that is no longer contemplated under the new bill.

The Senate bill also expands on the House measure by adding one state and one local marijuana regulator to the list of commission members.

The commission would also include representatives of:

  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of Justice
  • Department of Agriculture
    Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Department of Interior
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Commerce
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Internal Revenue Service
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • Small Business Administration
  • U.S. Trade Representative

By:  Kyle Jaeger, Marijuana Moment