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Ten Years After Legalization in Colorado, Hickenlooper Bill to Pave Way for Federal Marijuana Legalization

Nov 3, 2022

PREPARE Act would develop marijuana regulations for future legalization

Bill would establish commission similar to Colorado’s Amendment 64 Task Force

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper today announced he will introduce the Preparing Regulators Effectively for a Post-Prohibition Adult Use Regulated Environment (PREPARE) Act. The bill directs the attorney general to develop a regulatory framework for marijuana that would be enacted as soon as the federal government legalized marijuana.

While it remains illegal at the federal level, many states have followed Colorado in legalizing and regulating the sale and use of marijuana. The PREPARE Act would establish a fair, honest, and publicly transparent process for the development of regulations at the federal level that incorporates many of the lessons learned by these states. Hickenlooper’s bill is a Senate companion to Republican Congressman Dave Joyce’s bipartisan bill in the House.

“Colorado successfully pioneered marijuana legalization a decade ago, thanks in part to the Amendment 64 Task Force,” said Hickenlooper. “Federal legalization doesn’t need to start from scratch, and we should prepare for when it arrives.”

“I’m thrilled that the PREPARE Act will be introduced in the Senate, making it not only further bipartisan, but bicameral, and bringing it one step closer to becoming law,” said Congressman Dave Joyce. “This legislation gives lawmakers on both sides of the aisle the answers they need to effectively engage on cannabis reform, safely and effectively regulate it, and remedy the harms caused by the failed war on cannabis. With those answers, Congress can develop a much-needed federal regulatory framework that not only respects the unique needs, rights, and laws of each state, but also ensures a responsible end to prohibition and a safer future for our communities. I was proud to lead the introduction of this commonsense bill in the House and thank Senator Hickenlooper for advancing it in the Senate. I look forward to continuing to work together to pave the way for more comprehensive reform.”

On December 10, 2012, a month after Colorado voted to legalize marijuana, then-Governor Hickenlooper convened the Amendment 64 Task Force to give him recommendations for the establishment of regulations. Those regulations led to the thriving, safe, marijuana industry in Colorado today. The PREPARE Act would replicate the Amendment 64 Task Force at the federal level.

For text of the bill, click here. For a summary of the bill’s provisions, click here.

Specifically, the bill does the following:

  • Directs the attorney general to establish a “Commission on the Federal Regulation of Cannabis” to advise on the development of a regulatory framework modeled after existing federal and state regulations for alcohol.
    • A framework would have to account for the unique needs, rights, and laws of each state, and be presented to Congress within one year of enactment of the PREPARE Act.
    • The regulatory framework would have to include ways to remedy the disproportionate impact cannabis prohibition has had on minority, low-income, and veteran communities; encourage research and training access by medical professionals; encourage economic opportunity for individuals and small businesses; and develop protections for the hemp industry.
    • The commission would not have rulemaking authority; its only role would be to develop proposals and make policy recommendations
  • The 24-member commission would include representatives from relevant government agencies and offices, individuals nominated by Senate and House leadership, and individuals nominated by other government agencies.


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