Federal marijuana legalization measure introduced

Rep Nancy Mace announcing States Reform Act

Rep Nancy Mace announcing States Reform ActKyle Jaeger of Marijuana Moment has an excellent article on a new measure to federally legalize cannabis introduced by House Republicans this week:

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) is sponsoring the bill—titled the States Reform Act—along with a handful of initial Republican cosponsors. It would end federal marijuana prohibition while taking specific steps to ensure that businesses in existing state markets can continue to operate unencumbered by changing federal rules.

Unlike more modest measures previously championed by some of Mace’s GOP colleagues, this legislation—an updated draft version of which was obtained by Marijuana Moment over the weekend—represents an attempt to bridge a partisan divide. It does that by incorporating certain equity provisions such as expungements for people with non-violent cannabis convictions and imposing an excise tax, revenue from which would support community reinvestment, law enforcement and Small Business Administration (SBA) activities.

…Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment that if the congresswoman and her allies follow through, “then we will have truly shifted the debate from a partisan ‘Do we legalize’ framework to a bipartisan ‘We will legalize marijuana and erase the criminal records of those who have suffered under criminalization.’”

There would be a 3 percent federal excise tax on cannabis under the bill. That’s somewhat less than the 3.75 percent included in an initial draft of Mace’s bill that Marijuana Moment reported on earlier this month, and is significantly lower than tax rates in Democrat-led marijuana bills.

Definitely read the whole article but here are some highlights:

  • Cannabis would be removed from the Controlled Substances Act, with retroactive effects for people previously punished.
  • The legislation would grandfather existing state-licensed cannabis operators into the federal scheme to ensure continued patient access and incentivize participation in the legal market.
  • As federal agencies work to promulgate rules, there would be safe harbor provisions to protect patients and marijuana businesses acting in compliance with existing state laws.
  • Military veterans could not be discriminated against in hiring for federal positions due to cannabis consumption, and doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs would be allowed to issue medical marijuana recommendations.
  • Federal agencies could continue drug testing employees for marijuana.
  • Cannabis business would become eligible for SBA loans and other relief.
  • …and finally, all references to “marijuana” or “marihuana” in federal laws and regulations would be changed to “cannabis.”