VIDEO: Senate Democratic Leader Schumer And House Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeffries Announce The Reintroduction Of The Marijuana Freedom And Opportunity Act To Decriminalize Marijuana At Federal Level

May 9, 2019

The Legislation Would Back Women And Minority-Owned Businesses Participating In Marijuana Economy And Invest In Research To Fully Understand Effects Of Marijuana On Highway Safety And Public Health 

The Legislation Would Also Authorize New Grant Program To Provide Incentives For States And Local Governments To Adopt Or Expand Expungement Or Sealing Programs For Convictions Of Possession Of Marijuana 

Washington, D.C. – Today, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and new House lead sponsor, Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) announced the reintroduction of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, legislation that would remove cannabis from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act, effectively implementing decriminalization at the federal level. Schumer first introduced this legislation last year.

“It’s time to decriminalize marijuana, and this bill is a critical first step,” said Leader Charles E.  Schumer (D-NY). “The Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act would give states the right to make their own choices when it comes to regulation; better equip all Americans, particularly communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana’s criminalization, to participate in the growing marijuana economy; and, by incentivizing sealing and expungement programs, provide Americans with low-level marijuana convictions the opportunity to move forward.”

“For far too long, the impact of America’s repressive, archaic marijuana laws has been felt most heavily by people of color,” said Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08). “This critical effort works to correct that injustice by providing $100 million toward expungement programs and creating an investment fund for people of color and female entrepreneurs who wish to enter the lucrative legal cannabis industry. Senator Schumer should be commended for his stalwart leadership in this regard.”

Specifically, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act would:

  • Decriminalize Marijuana: Remove marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970, effectively decriminalizing it at the federal level.
  • Respect States’ Rights: Maintain federal law enforcement’s authority to prevent trafficking from states that have legalized marijuana to those that have not.
  • Level The Economic Playing Field: Establish dedicated funding streams to be administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for women and minority-owned marijuana businesses that would be determinant on a reasonable estimate of the total amount of revenue generated by the marijuana industry.
  • Ensure Public Safety: Authorize $250 million over five years for targeted investments in highway safety research to ensure federal agencies have the resources they need to assess the pitfalls of driving under the influence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and develop technology to reliably measure impairment.
  • Invest In Public Health: Invest $500 million across five years for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to work in close coordination with the Director of National Institutes of Health and the Commissioner of Food and Drug Administration in order to better understand the impact of marijuana, including the effects of THC on the human brain and the efficacy of cannabis as a treatment for specific ailments.
  • Protect Children: Maintains the Department of Treasury’s authority to regulate marijuana advertising in the same way it does tobacco advertising to ensure cannabis businesses cannot target children in their advertisements. The bill also allows the agency to impose penalties in the case of violations.
  • Incentivize Sealing and Expungement Programs:  Provides $100 million over five years to the Department of Justice in grants to encourage state and local governments to administer, adopt, or enhance expungement or sealing programs for marijuana possession convictions.


Leader Schumer and Rep. Jeffries today announced the reintroduction of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act. The video can be viewed here.

A fact sheet on the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act can be viewed here. The full text of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act can be viewed here. A section-by-section summary of the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act can be found here.

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