August 2022 Federal Cannabis News: Federal Cannabis Reform Efforts Continue to Grow 

Each month, Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) offers a convenient roundup of the biggest cannabis news stories and hemp headlines emerging across the nation. Get these updates in your inbox by subscribing to our email newsletter, or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to get the most recent edition when it’s published.

This month’s federal cannabis news update details pending federal reforms to cannabis advertising rules, arrest and conviction record expungement, and more. Read on to learn more about what’s changing in August 2022 and how these trends impact the cannabis industry.

House votes to allow cannabis advertising on TV and radio

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation in July that would permit cannabis advertisements on broadcast television and radio. Introduced by Sen. Ban Ray Luján (D-NM), the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Advertising Act is a part of the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill for the Fiscal Year 2023.

As of June 2022, local TV and radio stations are not permitted to accept ads that promote cannabis. In fact, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has the power to revoke licenses from broadcasters that air advertisements for federally illegal products, including cannabis, even in states that have passed laws legalizing cannabis. While some states have already updated advertising rules to accommodate legal cannabis, the SAFE Advertising Act would effectively prevent the FCC from denying broadcasting license renewals for airing cannabis advertisements in states where cannabis is legal.

The legislation also calls for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study and report that includes “an evaluation of whether cannabis-related legitimate businesses that are small business concerns or are owned by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual face systemic barriers to access service providers compared to other cannabis-related legitimate businesses.”

“I’m proud to introduce this legislation with the support of broadcasters across New Mexico and the country,” Luján said in a statement. “With health and safety measures in place, this legislation will allow broadcasters to accept cannabis advertisements in accordance with state laws.”

This legislation has caught the interest of cannabis marketers, who face restrictions from multiple platforms in advertising cannabis products and adjacent services. You can learn more about cannabis and marketing with our cannabis marketing guide.

Schumer files Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed his highly-anticipated bill for federal cannabis legalization in the Senate. If passed into law, Schumer’s Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA) would end the federal ban on cannabis by removing it from Schedule I under the Controlled Substances Act.

In addition to decriminalizing cannabis on a federal level, CAOA would prioritize social equity as part of a federal regulatory framework, as well as ensure that state-legal cannabis businesses could access financial services. If passed, the CAOA would also expunge federal cannabis convictions and require more federal research into the impacts of cannabis on health and public safety.

While many cannabis advocates doubt that CAOA will pass the Senate given the 60-vote threshold required, Schumer said on the Senate floor that he is committed to working with bipartisan offices to get “something” done on cannabis reform “this year.” With only 48 Democrats in the Senate, at least eight Republican senators and both independents will need to vote in favor of the CAOA for it to pass. It’s possible that certain provisions attached to the new legislation could serve as a building block for alternative cannabis reform packages as well.

“As more states legalize cannabis and work towards reversing the many injustices the failed War on Drugs levied against Black, Brown, and low-income people, the federal government continues to lag woefully behind,” co-author Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said in a statement. “With strong restorative justice provisions for communities impacted by the drug war, support for small cannabis businesses, and expungement of federal cannabis offenses, this bill reflects long overdue, common-sense drug policy.”

Bipartisan Congressional bill would expunge federal cannabis records

Reps. Troy Carter (D-LA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) sponsored a new bipartisan House bill that would create a process to expunge federal misdemeanor cannabis convictions and allow courts to recommend presidential pardons for eligible cases.

The Marijuana Misdemeanor Expungement Act (MMEA) bill lays out specific criminal codes that would constitute an “expungeable event,” including current statutes criminalizing possession and distribution of small amounts of marijuana without remuneration. Other expungeable events include “any other federal misdemeanor, petty offense, infraction, or civil penalty involving marijuana, including marijuana-related drug paraphernalia,” which did not involve violence.

To be considered eligible for expungement, the proposal states that at least one year must have passed since the arrest or the last non-technical docket filing. Courts may only process the expungement if they haven’t been notified by federal authorities that the given case is ongoing or that the person involved has evaded prosecution.

Data from a 2019 FBI report revealed that police arrested 545,602 people for cannabis-related crimes that year, which was 9% higher than the number of people arrested for violent crimes. Given that 92% of those arrests were for simple possession, Rep. Carter and cannabis advocates see a federal expungement program as a necessary component to restore justice to those who have most severely suffered the consequences of the War on Drugs.

“These misdemeanors – even without a conviction – can result in restrictions to peoples’ ability to access educational aid, housing assistance, occupational licensing and even foster parenting. Delivering justice for our citizens who have been impacted by marijuana-related misdemeanors is a key component of comprehensive cannabis reform,” Rep. Carter said in a statement.

Stay tuned for more cannabis industry news

CWCBExpo releases our federal update each month to help keep industry professionals in the loop. By remaining aware of both federal and regional updates, businesses can ensure that they are prepared and compliant with the fast-growing legal market. Stay tuned next month for up-to-date news on industry developments all across the U.S.

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