A Republican has reintroduced a bipartisan measure that would legalize cannabis at the federal level to Congress. South Carolina Republican Representative Nancy Mace reintroduced the States Reform Act, a measure to amend the federal Controlled Substances Act and allow cannabis at the federal level.
The proposal is currently acting as a placeholder and has no text. Even so, it is cosponsored by Republican Representatives Matt Gaetz (Florida) and Tom McClintock (California) as well as Democratic Representatives Dean Phillips (Minnesota) and David Trone (Maryland).
Democrats have largely been behind America’s decade-long wave of cannabis reform and are currently working to legalize the controversial plant at the federal level. However, even though the States Reform Act was introduced by a Republican and has bipartisan support, it has little chance of advancing past the House with new Speaker Mike Johnson in charge.
A prior version of the cannabis legalization bill that was introduced in late 2021 would have eliminated marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, levied a 3.75% federal excise tax on cannabis sales and let states decide on other regulatory issues. It attracted significant attention because it was the first Republican-introduced measure to legalize cannabis at the federal level and had six Republican cosponsors.
Observers at Capitol Hill expected Mace to reintroduce the measure earlier this legislative session, but Mace’s involvement in the House speaker drama likely took her attention away from the measure. There has been evidence of strife between House leadership and Mace from early 2023, and she was part of a group of far-right Republicans who voted to remove Kevin McCarthy as the House speaker.
Consequently, many observers believe that any Mace-led legislation, especially a federal cannabis legalization measure, would not be successful.
New House speaker Mike Johnson is a conservative Louisiana Christian with a long history of opposing marijuana reform. Johnson voted against each marijuana reform bill while he was in Congress and will most likely maintain his prohibitionist stance now that he is the House speaker.
He opposed efforts to expand cannabis banking access in 2019 and 2021 and has shown that he is against even the most modest cannabis reform efforts. In 2020, Johnson was part of a group of Republicans who ridiculed a coronavirus relief measure for including cannabis-related language and questioned why the word “cannabis” was mentioned 68 times while the word “job” appeared only 52 times.
In the meantime, most federal business on Capitol Hill is on hold until Congress passes much-awaited spending bills before Nov. 17, 2023. Enterprises such as Green Thumb Industries Inc. (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF) that are intent on extending their footprints to most of the United States eagerly await reforms that will make this possible.
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