On Wednesday, three top US Democratic senators revealed a discussion draft of a bill that aims to legalise cannabis federally.
The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act would allow US adults aged 21 and over to legally buy and possess up to 10 ounces of cannabis.
Floated by senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, finance chair Ron Wyden and New Jersey senator Cory Booker, the bill would erase non-violent cannabis crimes while furthering medical research and allowing essential financial services to be available for cannabis companies.
Cannabis is illegal under US federal law, although adult recreational use is legal in 18 states, and for medicinal purposes in 37 states.
The current position is a deterrent for banks and others from involving themselves with companies that sell cannabis products.
States will still have the autonomy to control the possession, production or distribution of cannabis as outlined in the draft bill, while it will remain prohibited to ship cannabis into states that have not legalised it. These states, however, cannot use their borders to stop shipments going to other legalised regions.
The bill also proposes moving cannabis oversight into the Food and Drug Administration, the regulator that oversees alcohol and tobacco, and away from the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Feedback is open on the discussion draft until September 1, with a final legislative draft being introduced later. The top Republican on the judiciary committee, senator Chuck Grassley, said cannabis use needs more research.
“This new bill puts the cart before the horse,” he warned.
For the bill to become law, the measures will need to be signed by President Joe Biden after being passed by both the Democratic-controlled Senate and House of Representatives.
Cannabis investment firm Beehouse Partners founder Greg Heyman said “it is hard to see how this can pass, but nonetheless it is positive to see progress and momentum”.
Private equity firm Poseidon managing director Michael Boniello feared the bill may hinder other federal cannabis reforms.
He added: “Our main concern is around the ability to get it passed in the Senate.”
In April, a cannabis reform bill was approved by the House of Representatives, however progress has stalled in the Senate.