Is the CAOA a perfect model for legalization? Probably not, as I am not sure there is a way to legalize cannabis that will please everyone. However, it is comprehensive and would completely change the cannabis industry.
A few weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), introduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA).
The nearly 300 page bill is comprehensive and is unlikely to pass before the midterm election (if at all, thanks to the filibuster). However, it does provide a real glimpse as to what we can potentially expect when federal cannabis legalization actually happens. Today, I will cover a few interesting portions of the CAOA.
The CAOA would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Individuals over 21 could legally use marijuana in states that have legalized. States could continue to prohibit marijuana within their borders but could not prohibit the interstate shipment of marijuana. The unauthorized growing, manufacturing, shipping, transporting, receiving, possessing, selling, distributing, or purchasing of ten pounds or more of marijuana would remain illegal.
The CAOA would also amend the 2018 Farm Bill by defining hemp as cannabis with less than 0.7% THC on a dry weight basis. That would more than double the current THC threshold of 0.3% for hemp.
If the CAOA passes, it would task several federal agencies would take part in regulating marijuana at a federal level. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) would each be involved. The FDA would regulate the manufacture, distribution, and labeling of “cannabis products,” as well as register cannabis product manufacturers.