A new Republican-led congressional marijuana legalization bill is imminent, Marijuana Moment has learned. The measure is presented by advocates as a compromise between simple deprogramming as proposed by other GOP lawmakers and extensive comprehensive legislation that Democratic leaders are defending.
Marijuana Moment secured the text of the bill, which is being chaired by Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC). The measure, called the States Reform Act, is currently being circulated among stakeholders for comment and is therefore preliminary, but a final version is expected to be officially tabled later this month.
This is yet another development in what has turned out to be an active year of cannabis reform on Capitol Hill. But the GOP’s angle is notable, as many have cast doubts on the chances of Congress passing the high-profile, large-scale marijuana bills Democrats are running in the House and Senate. Getting the buy-in from Republicans could prove key to crossing the finish line, and the Mace measure appears to be aimed at appealing to state rights and the business interests of fellow Conservatives on his side of the aisle while also incorporating elements of restorative justice and taxation largely favored by progressives.
The freshman congressman, who was the only GOP vote for a cannabis research bill for veterans during committee markup Thursday, aims to deprogram marijuana at the federal level and create a regulatory regime, while ensuring that existing state markets are not unduly overburdened or undermined by new rules.
Here is an overview of the details based on the bill and the background papers obtained by Marijuana Moment:
-Cannabis would be downgraded by the federal government and treated the same as alcohol.
-A 3.75% excise tax would be imposed on cannabis sales. The revenues would support grant programs for community reintegration, law enforcement, and Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance for newly licensed businesses.
-The Treasury Department’s Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Commerce (TTB) would be the primary regulatory body for marijuana with respect to interstate commerce.
-The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be limited in its regulatory authority, the intention being that it would have no more control over cannabis than alcohol, except for medical cannabis. The agency could prescribe serving sizes, certify state-designated medical cannabis products, and approve and regulate pharmaceuticals derived from marijuana, but could not ban the use of cannabis or its derivatives in non-drug applications. , such as in state-designated medical cannabis products, dietary supplements, foods, beverages, non-medicated topicals, or cosmetics.
– Raw cannabis would be considered an agricultural product regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
-The legislation would grant vested rights to state-licensed cannabis operators in the federal regime to ensure continued access to patients and to encourage participation in the legal market.
-As federal agencies work to enact rules, there would be safe harbor provisions to protect patients and marijuana businesses acting in accordance with applicable state laws.
-Non-violent people with certain federal cannabis convictions would be eligible for deregistration.
-To prevent consumption by young people, there would be a mandatory 21-year-old age limit for recreational cannabis, and the bill also places certain restrictions on things like advertising.
-The SBA should treat marijuana businesses the same as other regulated markets, as it does alcohol businesses, for example.
-The measure also states that veterans cannot be discriminated against in federal hiring because of cannabis use, and doctors from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would be specifically authorized to make recommendations for medical cannabis for veterans.
-Federal agencies could continue to perform drug tests for marijuana.
-The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) would be required to release a report to Congress on the marijuana industry.
The draft bill is 116 pages long, so these details are only part of what is included in the act. And again, the provisions are subject to change as the proposal is finalized before its formal introduction to Congress.
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It is also unclear which other GOP offices will be involved when the bill is officially rolled out. Marijuana Moment has contacted Mace’s office, but staff declined to comment at the time of posting.
The Republican-led effort sets the stage for an interesting debate. Advocates have already rallied around measures such as the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which recently authorized the House Judiciary Committee, as well as a reform bill being finalized on the US side. Senate, led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D -NY), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).
The champions behind these measures are unlikely to want to cede the issue to a Republican-led bill, even if it contains elements meant to appeal to Democrats and advocates of justice reform.
But it is possible that the legislation will garner favor with industry stakeholders who are hungry for a passable legalization proposal. Mace’s legislation takes specific steps to preserve markets that have already been established in states while ensuring they have the resources to grow under federal regulations.
Some Republicans have led or joined their fellow Democrats on other marijuana bills, but these are usually much smaller measures, simply protecting states that choose to legalize or deprogram cannabis without touching on the issues of cannabis. social equity or create a federal sales tax. .
In any case, the polls show that the public is ready for the end of the ban. Sixty-eight percent of American adults said they support the legalization of cannabis in a Gallup poll released this week, and that includes majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
Yet despite this support, President Joe Biden continues to oppose the legalization of adult use. Instead, he supports more modest proposals to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, legalize the plant for medicinal use, and let states set their own policies.
Whether he would sign a Democrat-led or Republicans-led legalization bill is an open question.
While the president is personally opposed to a complete end to the ban, the Congressional Research Service released a report on Wednesday explaining steps he and his administration could take to right the wrongs of criminalizing cannabis.
Congress lawmakers approve veterans marijuana research bill despite opposition from Biden administration