As more and more states passed legislation to legalize adult use of marijuana, it was only a matter of time before the Federal Government took action to decriminalize marijuana. Led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Senate proposal would let cannabis companies use banking services and trade on major stock exchanges. Called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, the bill would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and begin regulating and taxing it.
The bill will also try to make restitution to minority communities that were disproportionality impacted by marijuana prohibition by immediately expunging nonviolent marijuana-related arrests and convictions from federal records, and those convictions would no longer be used to deny federal benefits or affect immigration status, as well as earmark new tax revenue for restorative justice programs. The bill would also keep some federal drug-testing provisions and would give the US Food and Drug Administration oversight of cannabis regulations (In New York the State Liquor Authority will handle the oversight).
States will be allowed to keep their own penalties, but they could not prohibit cannabis crossing their boarders for transport, leaving open questions about the controversial topic of interstate commerce. The Transportation Department as well as the Department of Health and Human Services would be directed to collect data on cannabis-impaired driving and do research that could lead to a standard for impaired driving. This is a crucial issue that must be addressed. In 2020, the first year of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, 29,500 of the 45,822 drug test failures were for marijuana. The biggest challenge that marijuana presents for safety sensitive functions like truck drivers is by the difficulties in testing for intoxication. There is no breathalyzer equivalent, and drug tests pose problems because traces of THC may remain in a person’s system for weeks after use. Therefore, a worker could fail a drug test without actually being impaired or posing a safety risk.
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