U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, underscored that fact Monday by filing what she’s calling the States Reform Act, to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, among other provisions.
Those provisions: support state cannabis laws, expunge federal nonviolent marijuana crimes, release those imprisoned for those offenses and promote local ownership in the cannabis industry.
Of these, Mace’s bill is the first Republican-led legalization move to target minorities discriminated against by law enforcement agencies for marijuana offenses. Studies have shown that Black Americans are 3.6 times more likely than White Americans to be arrested for these offenses.
In addition, according to FBI statistics, over 350,000 Americans were arrested in 2020 alone – mostly for simple possession.
“This legislation I believe has something good for everyone, whether you are a Democrat or Republican,” Mace said at a press conference. In fact, she said, while the bill’s five co-sponsors are all Republicans, she said she’s received “great feedback from both sides of the aisle.”
That may be because Democrats are pushing their own proposed legalization legislation in the Senate, previously announced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, along with senators Cory Booker, D-NJ, and Ron Wyden, D-WY, to remove cannabis from federal prohibition. The MORE Act (Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, meanwhile, was passed by the House in 2020 and has been reintroduced in the current 117th Congress and advanced in September by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Mace further said that if her legislation becomes law, marijuana will be “regulated a lot like alcohol” (hemp is already legal), and that the federal excise tax on cannabis will be limited to 4 percent, to keep consumers from turning to lower-priced, illicit-market marijuana.
Mace, Schumer and the other federal legislators promoting legalization have strong support nationwide. According to a 2021 Quinnipiac poll, 69 percent of Americans overall said “yes” to the question of whether they supported legalization. Broken down, those “yes” responses came from 78 percent of Democrats polled and 62 percent of Republicans polled.