Six key takeaways from the U.S. pot legalization draft bill

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A group of U.S. senators has unveiled The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, the long-awaited cannabis reform bill that would effectively end decades of prohibition and federally legalize the drug. Below are six of the draft legislation's key parts that will be put forward for public comment by Sept. 1, after which a final bill will be filed and set for a vote in U.S. Congress. If successful, the bill will head to the White House for President Joe Biden's signature to formally become law. 

Here are some of the core components of the proposal:

  • Like alcohol, people over the age of 21 would be able to purchase cannabis, while sales would be limited to no more than 10 ounces of pot. Pot that contains any alcohol, caffeine, or nicotine are prohibited. CBD products will be allowed to be marketed as dietary supplements. 
  • Taking cues from how alcohol and tobacco are regulated, cannabis would be under the purview of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau under the Treasury Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency would no longer have jurisdiction over cannabis. 
  • The new law would tentatively ensure that U.S. states that still prohibit the sale of cannabis could continue to do so, thus limiting the potential for interstate commerce for cannabis within the U.S. 
  • If cannabis will no longer be deemed a controlled substance (thus making it legal), the legislation allows several government agencies to conduct research efforts to study the impact of cannabis on the brain, impaired driving and the societal impact in the 17 states that already legalized adult-use cannabis. 
  • Three grant programs would be established to create new opportunities for those socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who have been adversely impacted by the U.S.'s War on Drugs. To be eligible for the grants, states and municipalities must demonstrate that they've made an effort to expunge criminal records for cannabis offenses
  • Cannabis would initially be subject to a 10 per cent excise tax, which would increase annually by five percentage points over the next four years. In the fifth year, cannabis would be taxed by the ounce for flower products or per-milligram of THC for extracts. Smaller producers who generate less than US$20 million a year in sales would be eligible for significant tax breaks, while larger producers would see tax credits on the first US$20 million of sales. 
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