Schumer says he discussed marijuana bill with six Republicans during speech at legalization rally in New York

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) joined other lawmakers, advocates and celebrities in New York on Saturday to speak at a marijuana rally as he works to finalize a bill to end the federal ban on cannabis.

This is the second year in a row that the leader has taken part in the NYC Cannabis Parade & Rally. Also making an appearance was House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), whose bill to legalize marijuana federally passed the full house last month.

Schumer pointed out to rally attendees that he was working to build bipartisan support for the next bill he plans to introduce with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).

“I’ve invited all US senators – all Democrats, all Republicans – to come meet with us and tell us why they won’t support the bill or if they will, and I’m making good progress,” Schumer said. “I’ve already met six Republicans, so we can have 10. [and] we can get the 60 votes we need in the Senate to pass such an important piece of legislation.

Schumer, who has said the goal is to “legalize cannabis across America,” may actually need to win the support of more than 10 Republicans — which is a challenge from size — because his 50-member Democratic Senate caucus supports legalization at this point.

“It’s common. A majority of America thinks we should legalize it once and for all. And we’re working to do that in the United States Senate. We’re working hard to get there.

Nonetheless, he expressed confidence in the prospects for reform at the rainy rally in New York.

“No amount of rain, or anything else, can dampen our enthusiasm to legalize marijuana,” he said. “Nothing can stop us with you all side by side.”

Schumer said that shortly after he, Wyden and Booker finished drafting the bill, “then we’re going to get all our Republicans on board, as many as we can … and fight until we get our 60s.” voice. The sooner we do it, the better. »

Nadler, for his part, called the House’s passage of his legalization bill last month “an important step,” but noted that “we still have a lot of work to do before it becomes law”.

Advocates and stakeholders have been watching Schumer closely as he and his colleagues prepare to formally introduce the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), which they unveiled in draft form last year. .

There was some frustration over the timing, however, as the leader had previously said the plan was to table it last month before backtracking and instead saying it would be introduced before the summer holidays. August, giving lawmakers more time to build bipartisan support.

The Senate leader said last month he was making a “promise” to get CAOA filed within the new deadline he had imposed on himself.

However, Schumer and other speakers at the marijuana rally did not just focus on Congress. People also celebrated the legalization of cannabis at the New York State level, where adult-use retail stores are expected to open by the end of the year.

Schumer touted his home state’s cannabis law, saying he was “proud that New York has the most comprehensive legalization bill there is.”

“We want to get the rest of America and catch up,” he said.

Meanwhile, a senior Schumer official also recently spoke about the way forward for the federal legalization bill, as well as the prospects for passing progressive measures such as cannabis banking reform, in the interval.

With growing disappointment over delays in the Senate, some hope the leader will allow legislation to protect banks that work with state-legal marijuana businesses to move forward first.

Schumer and his colleagues have repeatedly insisted that full legalization is the priority and should come before the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) banking law, which has passed the House in one form or another six times. now.

The most recent potential vehicle for banking reform is the America COMPETES Act, a large-scale manufacturing bill that is heading for a bicameral conference. The House included SAFE Banking language in its version, but it was deleted in the Senate. However, key participants from both chambers have signaled that they will push to attach the proposal to the final package sent to the president’s office.

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It remains to be seen whether Schumer will stand in the way of that end, as SAFE Banking sponsor Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) accused him of doing after the House enshrined the reform in a bill. large-scale defense last year.

Regarding the CAOA, the chief and his colleagues said the new extended deadline was necessary, allowing them to spend more time refining the bill’s provisions with input from the public and bipartisan lawmakers that could help them. to overcome a high voting threshold for the passage in the chamber. Democrats hold only a slim majority in the Senate, and not everyone in the party supports legalization.

Meanwhile, several Republican members of Congress introduced a bill last November to legalize and tax marijuana federally as an alternative to sweeping Democratic-led reform proposals and GOP scaled-back cannabis legislation. . The sponsor of this bill, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC), said she expects a committee hearing on her proposal.

A bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers also introduced a bill last month that would simply ask the attorney general to create a commission to make recommendations on a marijuana regulatory system that models what’s currently in place for marijuana. ‘alcohol.

Reps. Dave Joyce (R-OH), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Brian Mast (R-FL) are teaming up on what’s titled Effectively Preparing Regulators for a Post-Prohibition Regulated Environment Act (PREPARE ) — an incremental reform intended to inform future comprehensive cannabis policy changes.

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