There’s a new bill in the U.S. Senate to legalize cannabis at the federal level, called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), introduced by U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). This bill wouldn’t merely legalize cannabis. It would also begin to repair the injustices of the drug war by investing tax revenue into communities most affected by decades of anti-drug enforcement, especially communities of color.
The CAOA—and a comparable bill in the House, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE) Act—make a lot of sense, and its sponsors deserve credit for getting them this far. The MORE Act already passed the House last year, on a bipartisan vote of 228 to 164.
But here’s the cold reality: these bills have no chance of passing without 60 votes in the Senate. And no matter how you count, there just aren’t 10 Senate Republicans willing to acknowledge the damage done by the drug war upon communities of color. That sad fact basically dooms these bills from reaching the president’s desk.
For all the credit these senators deserve for raising awareness of cannabis legalization as an issue worth prioritizing, that might be all these bills accomplish. Trying to