Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried offered support Thursday for new federal cannabis reform legislation from Senate Democrats.
“It is great to see this long-awaited and much-needed cannabis reform package introduced in the Senate, but it’s unfortunate that in the year 2022 the federal government has yet to end its unjust cannabis prohibition,” Fried said, regarding the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.
“While Congress has been debating and dragging its feet at every opportunity for reform, tens of thousands of people — the majority of whom are people of color — are unjustly incarcerated due to nonviolent minor drug charges. At the same time, patients have been prevented from accessing necessary treatments and economic opportunities have been stifled,” added Fried, a former lobbyist for the industry before her 2018 campaign.
“I hope both chambers can come together to move a comprehensive cannabis reform package forward without further delay to right the historic wrongs of prohibition at long last,” Fried said.
While Democrats hold nominal control over the Senate due to the tiebreaker vote, that won’t come into play regarding the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act in a meaningful way. The legislation was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Sen. Cory Booker.
It would need 60 votes to pass, however, and it’s unlikely that there are ten Republican cannabis reform votes ready to cross party lines for the Majority Leader’s priority.
The legislation would decriminalize cannabis, removing it from the Controlled Substances Act and returning the issue of legality to the states.
It would also facilitate expungement of certain federal charges related to cannabis and set up a scheme for Food and Drug Administration regulation and federal taxation, as well as require the Department of Transportation to develop a plan to deal with impaired driving within three years. The measure would also set up new avenues for research and banking, and remove pre-employment drug tests for cannabis for federal employees.
Fried has backed previous reforms championed by Congressional Democrats, including the MORE Act that passed the House. However, it is unlikely this latest appeal for cannabis reform will move Florida’s Senators, both of whom are Republicans with scant interest in this kind of legislation.
New comprehensive cannabis reform introduced in the Senate is welcome news — hopeful Congress can move such a package forward without further delay to FINALLY right the historic wrongs of prohibition.
— Commissioner Nikki Fried (@NikkiFriedFL) July 21, 2022