In another sign that some in Washington, D.C. are thinking ahead to when the cannabis industry becomes federally legal, Democratic U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper of Colorado just last week reintroduced a bill designed to get the federal bureaucracy ready to adjust properly for when legalization occurs.
Hickenlooper is again proposing the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult Use Regulated Environment (PREPARE) Act, according to a press release. Hickenlooper first ran the bill last year but it didn’t even get a hearing and didn’t garner any cosponsors.
Still, the Colorado Democrat – who was governor when the state rolled out its recreational marijuana market in 2014 – contends federal regulators need to begin thinking about “proper safeguards for federal cannabis legalization,” which is what he says his bill would promote.
“Colorado’s is the model for a safe, well-regulated marijuana market,” Hickenlooper said in a release. “Let’s build on that success with federal regulation.”
Specifically, the bill would “replicate” the state-level task force Hickenlooper convened after Colorado voters approved recreational marijuana legalization in 2012, with a broad array of stakeholders, to make sure all concerns are addressed.
The federal commission proposed by the PREPARE Act would focus on:
- Recommending a regulatory framework modeled after state-level rules and structures.
- Contemplate a regime similar to the one used nationally for the alcohol industry.
- Figure out ways to remedy harms done to minority, low-income and veteran communities by cannabis prohibition.
The commission would be comprised of industry members alongside representatives of federal agencies, with some appointed by Senate and House leaders, and spokespeople for state and local governments.
The bill is supported by the National Hispanic Cannabis Council, the Veterans Cannabis Coalition, NORML, the U.S. Cannabis Council, Minorities for Medical Marijuana, the National Cannabis Industry Association, and the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education and Regulation, according to the release.
Hickenlooper’s bill could prove a timely one, given President Joe Biden’s order last year for federal regulators to review marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 narcotic, a move that many industry insiders expect will lead to federal legalization of some sort, perhaps in the very near future.
It’s unclear when that decision may be handed down from the U.S. Department of Justice, but if it happens before the 2024 election – which many observers have suggested is likely – the PREPARE Act may suddenly have wind in its sails.