Cotton opposes federal bill to legalize cannabis, calling it “gift to the cartels and gangs”

Cotton opposes federal bill to legalize cannabis, calling it “gift to the cartels and gangs”

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton said during a Senate subcommittee hearing this week that a newly introduced bill to legalize and regulate cannabis would only be a “gift to the cartels and gangs,” according to MJBizDaily.

Last week, Senator Chuck Schumer (New York) introduced the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act after more than a year of behind-the-scenes debate and discussions, according to Politico. The bill would legalize cannabis and allow states to regulate marijuana without fear of punishment from Washington, the report said. 

The bill would also expunge federal cannabis convictions and encourage states to do the same. Cotton, ranking minority member of the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, does not support the bill, according to MJBizDaily. 

Legalization opponents – including Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, the minority ranking member on the committee – derided the CAOA as the “Marijuana Reparations Act” and said legalizing MJ would be “an enormous gift to the cartels and gangs.”

The bill needs 60 votes to pass the Senate and is unlikely to pass, sources told MJBizDaily, but that doesn’t mean the bill won’t spur movement on the issue in other ways, industry insiders said. The sweeping legislation could make smaller, incremental bills like the SAFE Banking Act look more attractive and parts of the bill could be carved out and placed into other bills, industry leaders said. 

Senator Cory Booker (New Jersey), who led the subcommittee hearing, is a sponsor of the bill, along with Oregon Senator Ron Wyden.

You can watch the hearing here or read more about the Cannabis Administration Opportunity Act here.