Republicans introduce a bill to regulate cannabis and end prohibition in the US

16th November 2021

Lawmakers in the US have been presented with yet another opportunity to push forward measures to end the prohibition and create a regulated market. Experts claim that the new bill, introduced by Republican members of Congress, could be the best chance of getting cannabis legalisation approved at the federal level.

According to Marijuana Moment, a number of Republican members of Congress have sponsored the so-called States Reform Act, to federally legalise and tax cannabis in the near future.

Rep. Nancy Mace, who is sponsoring the bill, said: “This bill supports veterans, law enforcement, farmers, businesses, those with serious illnesses, and it is good for criminal justice reform.

“The States Reform Act takes special care to keep Americans and their children safe while ending federal interference with state cannabis laws.”

As Marijuana Moment notes, the new bill can be seen as an attempt to “bridge a partisan divide” that has limited the potential of other cannabis legalisation bills. Democrat politicians have already introduced a number of cannabis bills over the last few months.

But while the Democrats now have a majority in both chambers, they will most probably need votes from the Republicans as well.

Under the proposal, cannabis would be treated and regulated like alcohol is – and it also would be removed from the Controlled Substances Act.

Moreover, federal convictions could be expunged within one year; the estimate is more than 2,600 people could be released from prisons.

The highlights of the States Reform Act is as follows:

  • No state or local government will be forced to change its current cannabis policies.
  • The Act would federally decriminalise cannabis from Schedule I and defers to states over prohibition or regulation.
  • It would regulate cannabis federally like alcohol under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for growers, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)/Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) for cannabis products and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for medical use.
  • It would ensure safe access and the safe harbour of state medical cannabis programmes.
  • It would protect medical cannabis for the following uses: arthritis, cancer, chronic pain, sickle cell, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, etc.
  • Federal release and expungement of those convicted of nonviolent, cannabis-only related offences – cartel members, gang members will be kept behind bars.

While some Republican representatives have already signalled that they oppose any sort of change in the country’s cannabis policy, experts claim this bill could be the one that gets through eventually.

NORML political editor Justin Strekal told Marijuana Moment: “If the congresswoman and her allies follow through, then we will have truly shifted the debate from a partisan ‘Do we legalise’ framework to a bipartisan ‘We will legalise cannabis and erase the criminal records of those who have suffered under criminalisation.’”

It is though still a question whether President Joe Biden, who opposes adult-use legalisation, were to sign any bills that would result in liberating the market.

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