In preparation for eventual legalization at the federal level, a new bill has been introduced in the Senate, creating a Federal Marijuana Commission.
Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) announced Thursday that he would soon introduce the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult-Use Regulated Environment Act (PREPARE). According to a news release, the bill calls for the attorney general to set up a commission to make recommendations on a regulatory process for cannabis that would model the system currently in place for alcohol.
The proposed legislation is identical to a House companion bill filed by Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Brian Mast (R-FL) in April. The announcement came on the 10th anniversary of Senator Hickenlooper's home state of Colorado approving adult-use marijuana by voters in 2012.
Hickenlooper was governor of Colorado then and empaneled a task force to help guide the implementation of legalization in the state. According to his staff, the Senator envisions this proposed federal commission to be very similar to that effort.
In a press release, Sen. Hickenlooper shared, "Colorado successfully pioneered marijuana legalization a decade ago, thanks (partly) to the Amendment 64 Task Force. Federal legalization doesn't need to start from scratch, and we should prepare for when it arrives."
"Colorado successfully pioneered marijuana legalization a decade ago, thanks (partly) to the Amendment 64 Task Force. Federal legalization doesn't need to start from scratch, and we should prepare for when it arrives."
- Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Recently, the Senator and current Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) celebrated the state's 10th anniversary of legalizing cannabis. At the time, Hickenlooper opposed the measure due to concerns over a potential increase in marijuana use by Colorado youth. However, since then, he has become one of the most ardent supporters of the state's trailblazing status. He attributes much of the program's success to that initial implementation task force.
According to a summary of the bill, the new legislation 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."
Furthermore, the comprehensive measure would help 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."
Advocates of full legalization have grown impatient with the incremental glacial movement by Congress loudly calling for the House and Senate to end the widely unpopular prohibition of marijuana at the federal level.
To its credit, the House has already passed comprehensive measures legalizing cannabis on two occasions. Likewise, the Senate pushed forward a separate reform bill this past July. However, it is not likely that the lower chamber will be able to advance that legislation before the end of the Congressional session in January.
The hope is that by forming a Federal Cannabis Regulation Commission, bipartisan backing could be garnered, especially among those lawmakers reticent to support legislation legalizing marijuana at the federal level in the here and now. While not ideal, a shift of this magnitude may have to travel the gradual and methodical path of slow and steady change to achieve the ultimate goal.
Sen. Hickenlooper's PREPARE Act seems to be that acceptable and politically practical legislation that the movers and shakers on Capitol Hill will be willing to digest and push forward in the seemingly inevitable but still frustratingly protracted march toward the full federal legalization of marijuana.
However, there is optimism among those enthusiastic voices championing the cause for the much-maligned and misunderstood plant. Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), co-sponsor of the House version of PREPARE, concludes by sharing, "I'm thrilled that the PREPARE Act will be introduced in the Senate, making it not only further bipartisan, but bicameral, and bringing it one step closer to becoming law."
"I’m thrilled that the PREPARE Act will be introduced in the Senate, making it not only further bipartisan, but bicameral, and bringing it one step closer to becoming law.”
- Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH)
Election Day is just four days away. We live in a country built on laws backed by the people's will. Who would have thought from that initial brave and forward-thinking action on the part of Coloradans to stare down almost a century's worth of misinformation and misunderstanding to pass that revolutionary measure that we, as a nation, would be where we are at this moment? Get out and VOTE! It can literally change the world.