While the federal legalization of cannabis inches closer every day, there are still questions and concerns from both parties on the best way to regulate the cannabis industry. Senator John Hickenlooper (D) of Colorado, where cannabis has been recreationally legal for 10 years now, is hoping to give a push in the right direction. This is welcome news, especially for commercial cannabis operations.
We’ve recently discussed how the DEA extended additional licenses for the purpose of expanding federal research into the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. With testing ramping up, the next step forward is to discuss a plan for nationwide regulations.
“PREPARE”-ing for Federal Legalization
The Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-prohibition Adult-use Regulated Environment Act, better known as the PREPARE Act is expected to be introduced to the Senate by Hickenlooper in mid-November. The bill is intended to provide a process for federal regulations and incorporate lessons learned from states where marijuana is already available for adult use.
The purpose of the Senate bill is:
To establish a Commission on the Federal Regulation of Cannabis to study a prompt and plausible pathway to the Federal regulation of cannabis, and for other purposes.https://www.hickenlooper.senate.gov/, SIL22907.pdf, November, 2022
The Commission formed as a result of this bill would consist of representatives appointed from a plethora of stakeholders, including:
- 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 organizations
The panel of individuals making up the commission will be responsible for writing a report detailing the regulatory models for alcohol, and how they can be leveraged to advise cannabis regulations. They will also look at the impact of cannabis criminalization, examine the lack of consistent regulations for cannabis products, and make recommendations on banking and research barriers. In addition, they will recommend “efficient cannabis revenue reporting and collecting, including efficient and tenable federal revenue frameworks.” The report is to be presented to Congress within 12 months of the Act being passed.
A Bipartisan, Bicameral Proposal
The Act is backed by Republicans as well. Congressman Dave Joyce (R) from Ohio has introduced a companion bill into the House and has commented:
“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,” Joyce said. “This legislation gives lawmakers on both sides of the aisle the answers they need to effectively engage on cannabis reform, safely and effectively regulate it, and remedy the harms caused by the failed war on cannabis.”
A growing number of politicians and citizens from both parties are on board with descheduling cannabis from its Schedule 1 status. A fair, impartial, and responsible bill such as the PREPARE Act could be the light at the end of the tunnel that commercial cannabis operations have been looking for. In fact, we encourage everyone to read it for themselves. Rather than a cryptic piece of legislation, the PREPARE Act has been carefully crafted to be inclusive in every way.
A Budding Industry Ready to Flower
Cannabis cultivators and manufacturers alike continue to thread the needle of various, inconsistent state laws. With expanded federal research and a bill written to pioneer inclusive regulation, the nationwide legalization of cannabis feels closer than ever.
The PREPARE Act could set the federal legalization of cannabis up for success, give both parties assurance that their concerns are being addressed, and help get legalization over the finish line with plans for regulation and public safety already in place.