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Senate Democrats to introduce bill to end federal ban against marijuana

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., (C) speaks during a news conference to call for the decriminalize marijuana at the federal level at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Leader Schumer was joined by Senators Cory Booker, D-N.J., (L) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) who have been working in support of the legislation. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., (C) speaks during a news conference to call for the decriminalize marijuana at the federal level at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Leader Schumer was joined by Senators Cory Booker, D-N.J., (L) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) who have been working in support of the legislation. Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo

July 14 (UPI) -- Senate Democrats on Wednesday will move to advance legislation that seeks to end federal prohibition of marijuana and remove it from the government's list of controlled substances.

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would officially remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act so it can be regulated and taxed. It is presently listed as a Schedule I drug, which are fully illegal.

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If the proposal became law, Congress would also be able to place rules on the growing pot industry, which is presently governed by a patchwork of various laws in states where the substance is already legal.

"By ending the failed federal prohibition of cannabis, the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act will ensure that Americans especially Black and Brown Americans no longer have to fear arrest or be barred from public housing or federal financial aid for higher education for using cannabis in states where it's legal," a draft of the legislation states.

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The bill calls for those who have been arrested and convicted of non-violent marijuana charges to have their records expunged from federal records.

It would also create new tax revenues for restorative justice programs intended to assist communities affected by past marijuana laws.

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The proposed bill points out that marijuana use is already legal in the District of Columbia and 18 states, along with the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. Marijuana is legal for medical use in 37 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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"Today, more than 90% of Americans believe cannabis should be legal either for adult or medical use Despite legalization under state law and broad public support for cannabis legalization cannabis remains illegal under federal law," the draft bill says.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are listed as "sponsoring officers" of the bill.

Their bill would likely face some opposition from Republicans in the chamber, who have often rejected restorative justice initiatives and the idea of government getting involved in the cannabis industry.

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The House passed legislation last year to remove marijuana from the controlled substances list, and reintroduced the bill in May.

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