GOP Bill Aims to Decriminalize Marijuana A marijuana activist holds a flag during a march on Independence Day in Washington. (Alex Wong/Getty)
By Solange Reyner | Monday, 15 November 2021 03:47 PM
A new bill introduced Monday by Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., would federally decriminalize and tax marijuana, an alternative to Democrats' proposals to legalize the drug.
The legislation — titled the States Reform Act — would release and expunge the records of people convicted of nonviolent, cannabis-only related offenses at the federal level and implement a 3% tax on cannabis products to "fund law enforcement, small business and veterans’ mental health initiatives,” according to a release.
It would allow states to set their own cannabis policy and remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.
“This bill supports veterans, law enforcement, farmers, businesses, those with serious illnesses, and it is good for criminal justice reform,” Mace said in a statement on Monday. “The States Reform Act takes special care to keep Americans and their children safe while ending federal interference with state cannabis laws.”
“Washington needs to provide a framework which allows states to make their own decisions on cannabis moving forward,” the congresswoman said. “This bill does that.”
Once associated with the war on drugs, cannabis has become big business, with the state-legal cannabis market expected to reach over $40 billion in the United States by 2026.
Marijuana is legal for adults in 18 states and Washington, D.C.; medical marijuana is legal in 37 states. Most recently, New Mexico, Connecticut, and Virginia legalized recreational cannabis and a slew of other states have passed cannabis reform measures.
Justin Strekal, political director of the nonprofit NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws based in Washington, D.C., told Marijuana Moment that, if the bill passes, “then we will have truly shifted the debate from a partisan ‘Do we legalize’ framework to a bipartisan take on the issue: ‘We will legalize marijuana and erase the criminal records of those who have suffered under criminalization.'”
Information from Reuters was used in this report.