During a Nov. 15 press conference, U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, a Republican from South Carolina who took office at the beginning of the year, unveiled the States Reform Act (SRA), legislation that would allow state governments to regulate cannabis products through the health-and-safety oversights of their choosing.
The 131-page draft bill proposes a 3% federal cannabis excise tax, with a 10-year moratorium on excise tax increases to maintain a competitive marketplace.
The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), which operates under the U.S. Department of the Treasury, would federally regulate the interstate commerce of cannabis products, while the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would oversee medical cannabis.
The legislation also includes expungement provisions, but cartel members, agents of cartel gangs or those convicted of driving under the influence would be excluded from seeking expungement.
Here, Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Dispensary have rounded up comments from various cannabis industry stakeholders and policymakers regarding the SRA.
“The States Reform Act should remove disqualifying offenses based on cannabis consumption, manufacturing and sales. It should instead exclude applicants who have engaged in corporate crimes or fraud. Those are far more relevant reasons to disqualify someone from the cannabis industry.” - Shaleen Title, Founder, Parabola Center
“Over two-thirds of Americans support federal cannabis legalization, and we are thrilled to see the comprehensive legislation that was introduced today by emerging leader, Republican Rep. Nancy Mace. As Americans seek to engage in the bipartisan effort to undo the unfair and misguided cannabis policies that have harmed disadvantaged communities, this legislation will give supporters from the Republican side of the aisle a comprehensive reform effort to champion.
From South Carolina and beyond, the benefits of legalization, such as economic and job opportunities, are benefits that cross the aisle. Canopy Growth looks forward to working closely with Rep. Mace and her colleagues in support of this important measure.” - David Culver, Vice President of Global Government Relations, Canopy Growth
“The States Reform Act would create a competitive and diverse American cannabis industry. … This proposed legislation is comprehensive, deliberate, purposeful and intentional in its drafting and its function.” - Rezwan Khan, President, Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce and DNA Genetics
“I know that this bill goes far in the right direction. It recognizes the need for expungement, it releases those who are being kept in federal custody for their cannabis convictions and it opens the door for tremendous opportunity for all.” - Steve Hawkins, President & CEO, U.S. Cannabis Council
“We believe it is time for the federal government to get out of the way. Our failed one-size-fits-all approach to cannabis is not working, and so we need states to be able to do what is best for their citizens. Arbitrary and enforcement of federal law is not a permanent solution, and so we need a permanent solution to this policy issue.” - Jeremiah Mosteller, Senior Policy Analyst, Americans for Prosperity
“It takes a lot of bravery to say you want to use this plant; it takes a lot of bravery to get out of the mess you’re in a lot of times, and if we don’t authorize that access explicitly, people just aren’t going to come forward.” - Doug Distaso, Executive Director, Veterans Cannabis Project
“We’re incredibly encouraged by this proposed bill, which is a thoughtful approach to decriminalization and includes common-sense parameters for existing state markets, regulation, taxation, criminal justice reform, hiring practices and veterans’ access. We are grateful to [Rep. Mace] for blazing another trail in the quest to destigmatize this plant and unlock the economic and job creation opportunities of our emerging industry, along with the health and wellness possibilities for millions of Americans.” - Joe Bayern, CEO, Curaleaf
"I am a passionate supporter of a states' rights approach to cannabis. For too long, the federal government has stood in the way of states that have acted to set their own cannabis policies. It is long past time to update our cannabis laws for the 21st century. My state legalized adult-use cannabis in 2014, and as Alaska's sole representative in the House and co-chair of the Cannabis Caucus, I am proud to help introduce the States Reform Act. This is common-sense legislation that removes cannabis from Schedule I under the federal Controlled Substances Act, thereby getting the federal government out of the way of state-legal cannabis use. Too many individuals with otherwise clean records have been incarcerated for non-violent cannabis use. This bill includes crucial provisions allowing for the expungement of federal marijuana convictions of non-violent offenders. I am grateful to Congresswoman Nancy Mace for her leadership on this important issue. As co-chair of the Cannabis Caucus, I will continue working to protect individual liberty and the right of states to make their own decisions on cannabis." - Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, States Reform Act co-sponsor (U.S. Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chair)
“First, it is great to see momentum building on both sides of the aisle for federal cannabis policy reform. This bill is a well-measured attempt in the series of legalization bills that have come forward in the past few years. While far-reaching bills like this are essential, as a version of one of them will eventually become law, attention seems misplaced on the idea of creating a 'silver bullet,' a single piece of legislation that will solve the numerous challenges that are a century in the making.
“Bills of this nature over-extend and over-simplify their approach as a 'single solution' to an incredibly complex process; alternatively, moving the needle legislatively around more focused, common threads between all bills could prove more effective.
“Such things as mass expungements of cannabis-related records, releasing people from prisons for cannabis infractions, 280E repeal and SAFE Banking may not be the entire answer, but would undoubtedly be a progressive advancement that sets a larger stage. Tackling parts of the whole could prove a more practical approach to unify all political leaders on focused issues that would create immediate positive impacts.
“While we commend the attempts with this legislation, ensuring we tackle the most fundamental social justice elements first is an exceedingly crucial step as we see it. We are excited to see how the conversation and action continues to evolve.” - Brandon Pollock, CEO, Theory Wellness
"Our party platform is clear: ‘We support firm enforcement of existing laws against the abuse and distribution of controlled substances, and we oppose any effort to legalize the use of controlled substances,’ and that includes marijuana.
"Unequivocally, the South Carolina Republican Party is against any effort to legalize, decriminalize the use of controlled substances, and that includes this bill. Since this will have widespread negative impacts, from rising crime, violence and mental health issues in children, I think it's a safe bet to say most Republicans will be against it too.” - Drew McKissick, Chairman, South Carolina Republican Party
“The States Reform Act represents exciting movement towards compromise on the cannabis criminal justice issue and progress-building on the First Step Act. Rep. Mace is bringing constructive solutions that promise to bring more Republicans to the table to end an unjust root cause of mass incarceration.” - Weldon Angelos, Founder, Mission Green/The Weldon Project (Steering Member, Cannabis Freedom Alliance)
“This is a bill that Congress can coalesce behind that meaningfully addresses the issues surrounding cannabis. This legislation reflects a set of bipartisan values while also providing much needed regulatory clarity for both patients and providers. We look forward to working with all interested parties on ensuring the swift passage of this vital proposal.” - Randal John Meyer, Executive Director, Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce (Steering Member, Cannabis Freedom Alliance)
“The States Reform Act is the simplest and best iteration of a marijuana descheduling proposal to come before Congress. It would allow for a functional, multistate market while allowing states the freedom to determine marijuana’s legality within their own borders. Importantly, the States Reform Act takes a realistic view on taxes by assessing a modest federal excise tax that would be in addition to the often-heavy excise taxes already assessed at the state and local levels. Other proposals have ignored the way that huge excise taxes at multiple levels would encourage both producers and consumers to remain in the dangerous black market. Marijuana excise taxes must not be so punitive as to prevent the emergence of a legitimate industry. The bill also provides existing state licensees certainty that they will be able to continue their operations without costly and duplicative new regulations and encourages widespread entrepreneurship and competition by making it easy and inexpensive to secure a federal cannabis license.” - Geoffrey Lawrence, Director of Drug Policy, Reason Foundation (Steering Member, Cannabis Freedom Alliance)
“The States Reform Act represents an opportunity for leaders in Congress to create stability and security for the American people. The failures of the war on drugs are well-known and well-documented, and it is past time to move on from this misbegotten effort. Meanwhile, the developing cannabis industry cannot truly develop into an engine of entrepreneurship and second chances until cannabis sheds its uncertain federal legal status. This bill is a common-sense policy change that will create a free and fair regulatory system and ensure law enforcement is focused on preventing and solving serious crime.” - Brent Gardner, Chief Government Affairs Officer, Americans for Prosperity
“This legislation represents a momentous step toward ending a decades-long failed policy of prohibition and the closing of one chapter in the failed war on drugs. Regulating and taxing cannabis improves the public safety and economic well-being of our communities by reducing the harms of illicit markets. Additionally, and more importantly, this legislation will allow police to focus their efforts on the most serious threats to society while creating jobs and economic security for more people.” - Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.), Executive Director, Law Enforcement Action Partnership
“Over the last 20 years, hundreds of thousands of veterans have struggled with life-altering wounds or injuries sustained during deployments in support of the global war on terror. Those who risked their lives for our country should not be penalized in federal hiring or denied important health benefits by the VA because they have used doctor-recommended cannabis to treat service-related injuries. Concerned Veterans for America is proud to support the States Reform Act, which corrects these injustices, and we applaud Rep. Mace for driving the introduction of this important legislation.” - Dan Caldwell (USMC, ret.), Senior Adviser, Concerned Veterans for America
“The Consumer Choice Center applauds Rep. Mace's effort to provide Americans with a smart, safe and consumer-friendly path to legal cannabis. A focus on establishing legal and safe markets will benefit all of society by finally eliminating the black market, restoring justice and giving the incentive for creative entrepreneurs to enter the marketplace. It is past time America had smart cannabis policies.” - Yaël Ossowski, Deputy Director, Consumer Choice Center
“We applaud Rep. Mace for introducing common-sense legislation that transfers the issue of cannabis regulation to the states, where it belongs. This bill will create jobs, save taxpayer money and increase transparency and certainty for all American citizens, who will no longer have to worry about playing by two different sets of rules.” - Robert Fellner, Vice President, Nevada Policy Research Institute
“As cannabis use continues to grow throughout the country, this legislation is a good first step at striking a regulatory balance between the federal government and states. It provides a comprehensive framework for federal decriminalization, including updating laws that help guide our criminal justice system. One crucial change would allow certain non-violent federal cannabis convictions to be expunged, freeing up those resources to protect public safety in other, more valuable ways. We are thrilled to see a Republican-led effort to bring federal cannabis laws into the modern age and applaud Congresswoman Mace for her leadership.” - Jillian Snider (NYPD officer, ret.), Policy Director, R Street Institute Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties
“Rep. Mace, along with multiple other Republicans, has put forward comprehensive and sensible legislation to repeal marijuana criminalization and this effort deserves serious consideration. Between the previously passed MORE Act, the recent Senate proposal by [Senate Majority] Leader [Chuck] Schumer, and this new bill, it is truly a race to the top for the best ideas and smartest approaches to responsible reform.” - Justin Strekal, Political Director, NORML
“As a constituent in Nancy Mace’s District, I am delighted to see that Congresswoman Mace is listening to her constituency’s calls for a reduction of the harms caused by marijuana prohibition. Incorporating restorative justice elements in the bill will help to reverse some of the harm already caused by criminalization and overzealous prosecution. As the first female to graduate from The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, I am not at all surprised by Congresswoman Mace’s leadership and ‘take charge’ attitude.” - Scott Weldon, Executive Director, South Carolina NORML
“Rep. Mace’s States Reform Act is an exciting development for all of us working to end cannabis prohibition. The bill, considered alongside the MORE Act and forthcoming [Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act], signals that Congress is getting serious about ending prohibition and could reach bipartisan agreement on the fundamentals of reform. It also bears personal significance for me.
“As a woman from the Deep South working in the cannabis industry, I greatly appreciate the leadership Rep. Mace is demonstrating. As a cannabis industry CEO whose family roots in agriculture go back generations in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina, I am thrilled to see a southern representative advance this issue. Farmers across the region struggle to make ends meet with standard commodity crops. Giving farmers the option to grow cannabis can open the door to a new, more prosperous era of agriculture across the South.” - Jessica Billingsley, CEO, Akerna (also Chair of U.S. Cannabis Council)
Digital Editor Eric Sandy, Associate Editor Tony Lange and Assistant Editor Andriana Ruscitto contributed to this report.