Lawmakers racing DEA rescheduling with bill of their own


DEA intentions to reschedule marijuana have dominated headlines, but many argue Schedule III does not go far enough to free the plant. It turns out that several U.S. senators agree, and have introduced a bill to legalize cannabis nationwide.

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) would supersede DEA rescheduling, removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) altogether. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with Sens. Ron Wyden and Cory Booker re-introduced the legislation just one day after the DEA reclassification news broke.

While moving cannabis to Schedule III would have certain benefits for the cannabis industry, it does not actually legalize the plant. It also fails to address restorative justice for people affected by prohibition. The CAOA, on the other hand, does all of the above.

“In place of the war on drugs, our bill would lay a foundation for something very different: A just, responsible, and common sense approach to cannabis regulation,” Schumer said at a press conference.

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) explained

The bill would leave it up to individual states to set their own cannabis laws. Interstate commerce would be legal, and operators could transport products through any state, regardless of the jurisdiction’s stance on the plant. A federal framework for the industry would be created, and a new Center for Cannabis Products would be established within the FDA to regulate the market.

A five percent federal excise tax would be placed on craft cannabis producers, gradually increasing to 12.5 percent over a five-year period. Larger pot companies would be subject to an initial tax of 10 percent, which could ramp up to 25 percent.

Low-level federal cannabis convictions would be expunged under the measure. People still in prison for the plant would have the option to petition for release. Grants for social equity operators would be made available, while a new Cannabis Justice Office would help fund non-profits providing legal aid and job training to victims of the war on drugs.

Previous versions of the CAOA failed to make it through Congress, and it’s unclear whether the latest iteration will pass. Analysts are less than pessimistic, particularly since the Democrat-led bill would need Republican support to make it through the Senate chambers. Knowing this, it seems Schedule III is far more likely—at least for now.


rachelle gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist, Emerald Cup judge, Budist critic, and editor of She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter