U.S. Senate democrats release discussion draft to federally legalize cannabis

July 14 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and two other top democratic senators on Wednesday released a discussion draft of a bill that aims to make cannabis legal on a federal level.

While adult use of cannabis is legal in 18 states, and medical use in 37 states, the substance remains illegal under U.S. federal law, deterring banks and other businesses from engaging with companies that sell marijuana or related products.

A bill would expunge federal non-violent marijuana crimes and further medical research, the draft document said.

The draft also states that a new definition of cannabis would be established within the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and primary agency jurisdiction over cannabis would be transferred to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives within the Department of Justice. It said a cannabis reform act would recognize state law as controlling the possession, production, or distribution of cannabis, and that shipment of the substance into a state in violation of state law would be prohibited. A final legislative draft will be introduced at a later date and stakeholders can provide feedback on the draft by Sept. 1.

In April, the U.S. House of Representatives had voted 321-101 to approve a legislation that would allow banks to provide services to cannabis companies in states where it is legal. (Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)