Today, Republican Representative Nancy Mace (R-SC) introduced the States Reform Act, a comprehensive bill that repeals the federal prohibition of marijuana, expunges federal non-violent marijuana crimes, promotes local ownership in the emerging regulated industry, and places certain restrictions on the advertising of regulated cannabis products, among other federal reforms. 

“Representative Mace, along with multiple other Republicans, has put forward comprehensive and sensible legislation to repeal marijuana criminalization and this effort deserves serious consideration,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Between the previously passed MORE Act, the recent Senate proposal by Leader Schumer, and this new bill, it is truly a race to the top for the best ideas and smartest approaches to responsible reform.”

“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,” said Scott Weldon Executive Director of South Carolina NORML. “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.”

Separate legislation to narrowly amend federal marijuana laws has been previously offered by congressional Republican lawmakers, but the States Reform Act marks the first Republican-led effort to provide expansive relief to those who have suffered under the cruelty of prohibition. The bill does so by releasing those who are currently incarcerated for federal non-violent marijuana crimes and by providing criminal record relief to those who have been formerly convicted of marijuana-specific violations. 

You can watch the press conference here.

Supporters of the States Reform Act can contact their lawmakers here.

National Polling In Support For Reform

Quinnipiac University, April 2021

Question: Do you think that the use of marijuana should be made legal in the United States, or not?

  • Overall: 69% Yes  – 25% No
  • Democrat: 78% Yes – 17% No
  • Republicans: 62% Yes – 32% No
  • Independents: 67% Yes – 28% No

Gallup Polling, Nov. 2021

Question: Do you think the use of marijuana should be made legal, or not?

  • Overall: 68% Yes – 32% No
  • Democrat: 83% Yes – 16% No
  • Republicans: 50% Yes – 49% No
  • Independents: 71% Yes – 28% No

Pew Research Center, April 2021

Question: Which comes closer to your view about the use of marijuana by adults?

  • 60% It should be legal for medical AND recreational use
  • 31% It should be legal for medical use ONLY
  • 8% It should NOT be legal

Breakdown: 

  • 12% of Republicans say marijuana should NOT be legal
  • 5% of Democrats say marijuana should NOT be legal

Key Facts:

  • According to a recent report by the ACLU, Black Americans are 3.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis-related crimes than white Americans. 
  • According to the FBI UCR, over 350,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related crimes in 2020 alone, over 90% of those arrested were charged with mere possession. 
  • The state-legal cannabis industry employs over 321,000 full-time workers; that is over four times the number of jobs specific to the coal industry. 
  • While the substance is not without harm, cannabis is objectively less harmful than legal and regulated alcohol and tobacco. 

Additional Context

In December of 2020, the House of Representatives passed The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act, on a bipartisan vote of 228-164. This marked the first time in American history that a chamber of Congress had advanced legislation to repeal the federal prohibition and criminalization of marijuana. The bill was carried by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler and the Senate companion was carried by then-Senator Kamala Harris. The Senate under then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not consider the legislation prior to the end of the 116th Congress, effectively killing the bill. 

The MORE Act has since been reintroduced in the 117th Congress and advanced by the House Judiciary Committee on September 30th, 2021 on a bipartisan vote of 26-15. 

The States Reform Act similarly deschedules marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act — thereby ending the existing state/federal conflict over cannabis policy — and provides a pathway to address the harms inflicted upon otherwise law-abiding Americans who have suffered under prohibition. 

In the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with Senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden, have put forward a discussion draft of their own reform proposal, which includes most elements of the MORE Act along with a proposed regulatory structure heavily reliant on FDA oversight, similar to tobacco. 

In contrast, the States Reform Act primarily directs the Tax and Trade Bureau to be the principal regulator of authority in matters concerning cannabis; this model is more akin to the regulation of alcohol. 

It has long been NORML’s position that states, rather than federal agencies, ought to be the primary arbiters of marijuana policy. This policy is similar to how the United States currently regulates alcohol products.

NORML has released core attributes for state-legal programs here

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