By Carol Newman

According to various polls, nearly 70 percent of Americans want cannabis to be fully decriminalized, and more than 90 percent want medical cannabis products to be available to patients and veterans. The States Reform Act, filed in the House by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) on November 15, 2021, seeks to address some of these issues. Highlights of the bill include:

  • Cannabis will be decriminalized at the federal level, and states will be free to make their own decisions about regulations; states and local governments will not be required to change their current cannabis policies
  • Cannabis products will be regulated like alcohol products, e.g., under the USDA for growers, and under the FDA for medical use
  • Veterans are guaranteed not be discriminated against in seeking positions at the federal level, or will not lose their VA healthcare, if they have been following their doctor’s advice to use cannabis for medical purposes
  • Those under the age of 21 will be protected from cannabis products and nationwide advertising
  • Medical cannabis will be protected for such usage as arthritis, cancer, HIV/AIDS, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, chronic pain, sickle cell, and other medical uses, based on an individual state’s regulations
  • A 3 percent federal excise tax will be established on those products to set up funding for law enforcement and small business programs
  • Persons who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes at a federal level related to cannabis will be released and will have the offense removed from their record. This does not include those who have been convicted of driving under the influence, or cartel members or agents.

Rep. Mace referred to the States Reform Act as a compromise bill, saying parts of it represent ideas from previous Republican bills that have been filed, and other parts represent some reforms Democrats have previously proposed. However, overall, public opinion continues to favor descheduling cannabis and regulating cannabis commerce.

The Act has received support from various groups and individuals, including Dan Caldwell (USMC, ret.), Senior Advisor to Concerned Veterans for America; Robert Fellner, Vice President at Nevada Policy; Brent Gardner, Chief Government Affairs Officer at Americans for Prosperity; Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.), current Executive Director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership; and Jillian Snider, R Street Institute Criminal Justice & Civil Liberties Policy Director, and retired NYPD officer.