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New Senate Bill Would Create Federal Marijuana Commission To Prepare For Legalization

( Photo taken by G Taylor of )

Marking the 10th anniversary since Colorado voters approved marijuana legalization at the ballot, Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) announced on Thursday that he will soon be filing a congressional bill to set the country up for federal cannabis reform.

Specifically, the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult-Use Regulated Environment Act (PREPARE) Act would direct the attorney general to create a commission charged with making recommendations on a regulatory system for marijuana that models what’s currently in place for alcohol.

The measure is identical to a House companion bill that Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Brian Mast (R-FL) filed in April. Hickenlooper’s staff told Marijuana Moment that the Senate version will be formally introduced when the chamber returns from recess in mid-November.

The senator sees the commission that would be created by the legislation as similar to a task force he empaneled when he was Colorado’s governor to steer implementation of legalization at the state level.

“Colorado successfully pioneered marijuana legalization a decade ago, thanks in part to the Amendment 64 Task Force,” he said in a press release. “Federal legalization doesn’t need to start from scratch, and we should prepare for when it arrives.”

Hickenlooper recently participated in an event with current Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the state’s legalization vote, which he opposed at the time. He has since acknowledged, however, that many of his fears about ending prohibition haven’t materialized, particularly when it comes to youth cannabis use.

The new congressional measure would “provide lawmakers across the ideological spectrum the opportunity to engage on cannabis reform by creating a fair, honest and publicly transparent process for the federal government to establish effective regulation to be enacted upon the termination of its 85-year prohibition of cannabis,” according to a summary.

It would lead to the “development of a federal regulatory framework that will help ensure safety, accountability and economic growth among the 45+ states that have enacted cannabis legalization to some degree” while accounting for the “unique needs, rights and laws of each state.”

The idea of creating a “Commission on the Federal Regulation of Cannabis” could attract bipartisan support, especially among lawmakers who are reluctant to back legislation to federally legalize cannabis altogether.

That said, advocates have become increasingly impatient with marijuana incrementalism in Congress, imploring lawmakers to follow the lead of states and put an end to the widely unpopular policy of cannabis criminalization.



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