A trio of U.S. Representatives introduced bipartisan legislation April 14 to prepare for the federal legalization of cannabis.
The Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult Use Regulated Environment (PREPARE) Act, introduced by Reps. Dave Joyce (OH-14), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) and Brian Mast (FL-18), aims to set up 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,” according to a press release from Joyce’s office.
The legislation is meant to provide lawmakers an opportunity to engage in federal cannabis policy reform, “paving the way for more comprehensive reform down the road,” according to the release.
“With 91% of Americans supporting either medical or recreational cannabis legalization, it’s time for the federal government to respect the will of our voters—both Democrat and Republican alike—and begin a serious conversation about what a post-prohibition America should look like,” Joyce said in a public statement. “No matter their opinion on descheduling, most lawmakers agree that the federal government cannot continue to interfere with the rights of the 48 states that have legalized cannabis to some degree. The PREPARE Act will give my colleagues on both sides of the aisle the answers they need to effectively engage on cannabis reform so that Congress can develop a federal regulatory framework that ensures not only a responsible end to prohibition, but also a safe future for our communities.”
The PREPARE Act would direct the U.S. attorney general to establish a new commission, called the Commission on the Federal Regulation of Cannabis, which would be tasked with advising on the development of a regulatory framework for cannabis based on the federal and state regulations that govern alcohol.
“Americans across the political spectrum recognize that now is the time for cannabis reform,” Jeffries said in a public statement. “Since the failed war on drugs began over 50 years ago, the prohibition of marijuana has ruined lives, families and communities—particularly communities of color. The PREPARE Act is one of the bipartisan solutions that will lay the groundwork to finally right these wrongs in a way that advances public safety and boosts our economy.”
According to the press release, the legislation would:
Direct federal regulators to develop a regulatory and revenue framework to ensure safe production and consumption of cannabis, modeled after the alcohol industry which accounts for the unique needs, rights and laws of each state, and present such a framework to Congress within one year;Build upon the Obama and Trump Administrations’ efforts to remedy the unjust consequences of the war on cannabis, particularly those suffered by minority, low-income, and veteran communities;Help grant medical professionals critical research access and training, as well as economic opportunity to individuals and smalls businesses by providing access to the financial sector; andDevelop protections for the hemp industry, including cross pollination prevention efforts.
“Forty-eight states have already legalized some form of cannabis, so I would say the cat is out of the bag and Congress needs to legislate based on the reality in front of us,” Mast said in a public statement. “The PREPARE Act is an important step to ensuring the necessary framework exists for a post-prohibition world.”
The PREPARE Act now joins several other pieces of legislation aimed at ending federal prohibition, including the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which cleared the U.S. House for the second time April 1, and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), which was unveiled in draft form in July 2021. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced in February that he will formally introduce the CAOA sometime this month after receiving feedback from his colleagues and industry stakeholders.