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Senate moves to legalize pot at federal level. What are the chances?

Sasha Hupka, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Hudak said the draft legislation takes "a comprehensive approach" and lays out a detailed plan for oversight and regulation of recreational marijuana.

The Food and Drug Administration and the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau would regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana.

In an effort to address past injustices caused by federal marijuana prohibitions, the Justice Department would establish an office to help people convicted of nonviolent marijuana-related violations transition out of incarceration.

—What are advocates and critics saying?

Advocates of the draft legislation see it as a rare opportunity to push federal reform on marijuana.

Still, Strekal said the draft legislation continues drug testing for federal employees and, under its proposed taxation structure, would tax medical marijuana. He hopes to see those items changed in the final version.


"Fifty years from now, the implications of the initial bill passed are going to be massive," Strekal said. "And there's no perfect legislation, but we want to make sure it's as close to right as possible."

Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an organization that supports decriminalization but opposes legalization of cannabis, released a letter from its research advisory board calling for the final legislation to include limitations on potency, advertising restrictions and a ban on flavored products that could appeal to children.

Kevin Sabet, president of the organization, said he would also like to see further discussion about whether legalization might increase the number of DUIs on the road and other public health consequences.

"There's a lot of protections for people who use marijuana and not a lot of protections for people who don't use marijuana, which obviously is the majority of people, believe it or not," Sabet said.


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