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Schumer at the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally in March. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) unveiled draft legislation on Wednesday to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

Why it matters: Though the legislation faces steep odds in the 50-50 Senate, it's a major milestone for marijuana activists and a sign of how far the debate has moved on criminal justice and the war on drugs.

Details: The bill, called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, would remove the drug from the Controlled Substances Act and impose a federal tax on marijuana products, according to Marijuana Moment.

  • Revenue from the tax would be used to fund grant programs for communities most impacted by marijuana prosecutions. Regulation of marijuana would be transferred away from the Drug Enforcement Administration to the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies.
  • States would still be allowed to set their own marijuana laws, but businesses and individuals in states that have legalized it would be allowed to sell and consume marijuana without the risk of federal punishment.
  • The bill would also require federal districts to expunge nonviolent marijuana-related arrests and convictions within one year.

Between the lines: Taking marijuana off the list of controlled substances "would remove the most difficult regulatory burdens from U.S. marijuana companies, allowing them to take tax deductions, hold bank accounts and loans, and list on U.S. stock exchanges such as the Nasdaq and the NYSE," Bloomberg reports.

What they're saying: "For decades, young men and women — disproportionately young Black and Hispanic men and women, have been arrested and jailed for even carrying a small amount of marijuana in their pocket," Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

  • "This is monumental," Schumer said Wednesday while announcing the draft legislation. "At long last, we are taking steps in the Senate to right the wrongs of the failed war on drugs."

What to watch: The House voted overwhelmingly to decriminalize marijuana last year and reintroduced a bill in May. Any weed legislation will likely face a difficult path forward in the Senate, where Republicans have expressed opposition and some moderate Democrats may be skeptical. President Biden has not endorsed the bill.

Go deeper: Advocates, Democrats plan to push major pot reform

Go deeper

Republicans scuttle voting rights proposal

Sen. Joe Manchin. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

The Senate failed to advance a new voting rights bill in a 49-51 vote Wednesday, after Republicans successfully filibustered the bill.

Why it matters: The Freedom to Vote Act is the latest attempt by Democrats to counter Republican-led efforts to pass state laws restricting voting access. This marks the third time this year that Republicans have been able to scuttle voting rights legislation, the New York Times noted.

Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Stymied by Sinema

Photo: Mandel Ngan/Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders say Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Ariz.) potential opposition to any corporate or personal tax increase will complicate — and potentially delay — President Biden’s $2 trillion plan to expand the social safety net.

Why it matters: If tax hikes are out, lawmakers have to find new revenue streams to pay for child care and other administration priorities. Sinema may not be opposed to some drug pricing reforms or enhanced IRS enforcement, Axios has learned.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

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