Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) last week introduced the first-ever Republican-initiated bill in Congress to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. The bill also contains provisions for taxing and regulate the industry in the United States and expunge certain cannabis-related criminal records for individuals.
Mace said that federally decriminalizing cannabis would “give states freer rein to pass their own laws and regulations without fear of federal reprisals,” the Associated Press reported.
The first-term Congresswoman from South Carolina said a half-dozen GOP House members would co-sponsor the bill, which aimed to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol, prohibiting its use for anyone under 21 years of age.
Mace also said she hoped that the bill would garner broad GOP support.
The measure aims to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level without affecting local-level restrictions, meaning that states would still be free to make their own marijuana laws.
A Republican swing in favor of decriminalization and regulation could bring about “a snowball effect on Capitol Hill, where Democrats lead the charge on decriminalization but lack results,” Politico noted.Advertisement
“Cannabis is an issue that is truly bipartisan. … [Decriminalization] is overwhelmingly supported by Republicans and Democrats alike,” Mace told Bloomberg’s Dose newsletter .
“You need a piece of legislation that has the support of both parties and can pass both chambers. I tried to be very thoughtful about what I put in the bill that would appeal to Democrats and Republicans,” Mace told Politico. “That is why the criminal justice reform is part of it. That is why excise duty is low.”
The bill would give the U.S. Department of Agriculture purview over growers, while the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives would oversee the post-cultivation cannabis industry. Medical marijuana would be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, AP reported.
The bill would also levy a 3 percent federal excise tax on all cannabis products. Proceeds would go to small businesses and mental health services, and to retraining law enforcement, media reports said.
Mace added that low levels of taxation would also stymie black market operators.
“If we are able to keep taxes relatively low—around 3 percent to 3.75 percent—the research I’ve seen suggests that [tax rate] reduces the motivation to turn to the black market. We’ve seen in California that the black market has persisted because taxes are too high,” she told Bloomberg’s Dose.Advertisement
Cannaconvo with Peter Su of Green Check Verified
Cannabis Last Week with Jon Purow interviews Peter Su of Green Check Verified. Peter Su is a Senior Vice President with Green Check Verified, the top cannabis banking compliance software/consultancy in the space. A 20+ year veteran of the banking industry, Peter serves on the Banking & Financial Services committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association. He chairs the Banking and Financial Services Committee for the NYCCIA & HVCIA. He is an official member of the Rolling Stone Cannabis Culture Council. And, he is on the board of the Asian Cannabis Roundtable, serving as treasurer.