The inherent contradictions of American cannabis laws seem to appear in the news almost every week.
At the state level, for example, Virginia recently became the latest jurisdiction to allow adult cannabis use, effective this July 1. But just days later, a court upheld United States federal tax laws that treat state-licensed cannabis businesses as illegal drug traffickers.
To resolve conflicts like this, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he’ll introduce legislation to “decriminalize” cannabis federally.
In drafting his bill, he should draw inspiration from Canada. Congress might be too divided for full legalization this year, but it can begin providing the clarity that Canada’s approach offers.
Congressional action is clearly needed, as federal law has fallen behind states’ efforts in three ways.
First, state-level legalization means every state’s laws are different.
Consequently, state-licensed businesses face operational inefficiencies and fragmented markets. And medical users authorized by one state can get arrested in another.
Second, cannabis remains federally illegal even…