New Senate Proposal To Federally Legalize Yet Heavily Regulate Cannabis


New legislation proposes to reschedule cannabis and regulate it with a half dozen federal agencies.

By Captain Semantics

Photo by Avery Meeker

Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) filed a new bill to federally legalize marijuana last Thursday. The legislation would reclassify cannabis and eliminate it from the Controlled Substances Act. The plant would later be regulated by various health and safety agencies within the federal government. 

The “Substance Regulation and Safety Act ” proposes to deschedule cannabis and mandates the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish guidelines that regulate cannabis similarly to alcohol and tobacco. The bill would also create a federally funded research institute to “evaluate the risks and benefits of cannabis.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture would manage quality control standards as it does with other plants within the food supply. The bill also plans to address an issue confounding many law enforcement agencies within legal marijuana states: Is driving ‘high’ safe? The Department of Transportation would be tasked with understanding the effects of such impaired driving as well as methods for law enforcement to detect how ‘high’ someone is. Many of these regulations could seem cumbersome to established manufacturers in legal states who otherwise are not overseen federal agencies.

Highlights of the bill include an operative expungement of previous cannabis convictions. The bills describes the legal amnesty provisions “are retroactive and shall apply to any offense committed, case pending, or conviction entered, and, in the case of a juvenile, any offense committed, case pending, or adjudication of juvenile delinquency entered, before, on, or after the date of the enactment of this Act.” 

Importantly, the bill contains racial justice provisions lacking in many previous legalization efforts. The legislation mandates the Department of Health and Human Services “consult with civil rights stakeholders” to ascertain “whether cannabis abuse prevention strategies and policies are likely to have racially disparate impacts.” There is a 100 days deadline post-enactment for these consultations to happen.

Paradoxically, the same Department of Transportation that would be tasked with determining criminality of impaired drivers would also determine whether its policy “is likely to contribute to racially disparate impacts in the enforcement of traffic safety laws.”

Yet cannabis advocates are speaking highly of the bill: “It’s terrific to see Senator Smith engage so substantively in the cannabis policy reform debate,” political director of NORML Justin Streka told Marijuana Moment. “We at NORML look forward to propelling many aspects of the new legislation into the broader conversation on the future of federal regulations in regards to a post-prohibition America.”

Read the bill below.


  • Show Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

You May Also Like

cannabis and covid

New Research Suggests Cannabis Terpenes & CBD Outperform Corticosteroids in Covid-19 Patients

Israeli researchers have found the combination of CBD with the accompanying cannabis terpenes creates ...

Big Pharma and the DEA Stand in the Way of Cannabis Research

Medical marijuana is considered useful in treating conditions from epilepsy to Crohn’s disease to ...

Research Shows Batteries Made From Hemp Are Superior to Lithium, Graphene

Late last year, research demonstrated that hemp batteries can be more powerful than commonly ...

cannabis covid-19 treatment

Researchers Find Evidence that Cannabis May Curtail Lethal COVID-19 Lung Inflammation

Now, researchers from the Texas Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Nebraska are ...

Cannabis Legalization is a Key Component to Ending Police Brutality

With two-thirds of Americans supporting legalization, law enforcement groups are among the few opposing ...

Cops are Probably Lying About Smelling Weed in Your Car

A recently published study in the March 2020 issue of Science & Justice, researchers ...