News Update

Can States Reform Act spark marijuana reform?

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Pot popularity

Pot. Weed. Grass. The devil’s lettuce. Whatever it’s called, marijuana use in the United States is booming. Public opinions may be changing quickly, but on Capitol Hill, support for marijuana legalization reform is stalled.

The House of Representatives voted twice in the last two years to pass the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. The Senate has failed to bring the bill up for debate despite Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) saying marijuana reform is one of his top priorities.

While marijuana reform stagnates at the federal level, individual states are moving forward with plans of their own.

Pot-law patchwork

Even when sober, understanding the breakdown of where pot is legal and illegal can be hazy.

Anyone is free to use marijuana however they’d like in 18 states, including California, New York, and Illinois. Another 19 states have either legalized medical marijuana, allowed for some decriminalized recreational use, or both. Nebraska and North Carolina both decriminalized marijuana but don’t have medical marijuana programs. Seven states let some patients use low doses of marijuana but only in certain forms. And finally marijuana, in all its forms, is completely illegal in four states, including South Carolina.

Confused?“It is confusing, because you have this sort of patchwork,” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said. “As states have implemented cannabis reform, you’ve seen what’s worked well and what hasn’t worked well. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do. You want to make sure that you’re responsible with [marijuana reform], and different states have different priorities.”

Mace, a GOP member in a state where marijuana remains (as of May 2022) completely illegal, is the author of the States Reform Act (SRA).

“When I tell people what the bill does, even the die-hard conservatives support it,” Mace said. “When they realize, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re just protecting the rights of states and my state can do what they want to do? Oh my gosh, heck yes!’”

What’s States Reform?

It’s been called “the most comprehensive framework for the decriminalization of cannabis at the federal level introduced by Congressional Republicans.” To date, however, the SRA hasn’t received the same sort of traction or media coverage as the MORE Act.

Former NYPD Officer Jillian Snider is the Director of Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties at the non-partisan think tank R Street. She was at the introduction ceremony for the States Reform Act.

“I think the reason that [the SRA] didn’t get as much momentum, or a lot of people haven’t heard a lot about it is because it was introduced in the fall,” Snider said. “We all know Congress is busy towards the end of the year.”

Snider said with the MORE Act stalled again, and the 2022 Midterm elections fast approaching, the table could be set for the States Reform Act to take the spotlight.

What’s the difference?

Like the MORE Act, Mace’s bill decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level, allows for interstate commerce and expunges convictions for non-violent marijuana-related offenses.

The SRA also creates an excise tax on marijuana sales, but key differences exist.

The Democrat-backed MORE Act creates a 5% excise tax on marijuana, which grows to 8% after three years. Schumer’s version of a marijuana reform bill, which hasn’t been introduced yet, is said to start with a 10% excise tax that balloons to 25% within five years. The SRA caps excise taxes at 3%.

“I worked narcotics as a cop,” Snider said, “When things are illegal, or things are legal but just so ridiculously taxed, it’s still allowing room for black market flourishment. So, if you’re making it that difficult to legally cultivate and sell marijuana, because the taxes are 8%, you’re still going to have that illegal element.

“There’s going to be criminality because people don’t want to pay that,” Snider continued. “So with having a modest, smart level of excise tax, that’s really going to keep criminal behavior at bay. People who want to get into the marijuana space legally, they’re going to be able to do it.”

Follow the money

Under Congresswoman Mace’s bill, the tax revenue generated through excise taxes would be split among the Department of Justice, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services. These disbursements are similar to those of the MORE Act, but obviously the actual amounts distributed differ.

SRA also sets the minimum age to buy marijuana at 21. The MORE Act didn’t set an age limit.

Mace calls the States Reform Act a “compromise bill”, saying there’s something in it to make everyone happy.

“We need to remember every electorate is different, and we are a Republic and we do things in a manner that makes the most sense,” Mace said. “[The States Reform Act] will also stand up in court, stand up to the Constitution, stand up to the Supreme Court.”

Make no mistake: marijuana reform is a mostly politically agnostic issue. More than ¾ of U.S. adults already live in a state with some form of legalized pot, and more than 90% of U.S. adults say pot should at least be legal for medical purposes.

POT. WEED. GRASS. THE DEVIL’S LETTUCE. WHATEVER YOU WANT TO CALL IT, MARIJUANA USE IN THE UNITED STATES IS BOOMING. PUBLIC OPINIONS ABOUT MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION MAY BE CHANGING QUICKLY, BUT IT’S A DIFFERENT STORY ON CAPITOL HILL.

THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES VOTED TWICE IN THE LAST TWO YEARS TO PASS THE MARIJUANA OPPORTUNITY REINVESTMENT AND EXPUNGEMENT (MORE) ACT. HOWEVER, THE SENATE HAS FAILED TO BRING THE BILL UP FOR DEBATE DESPITE SENATE MAJORITY LEADER CHUCK SCHUMER SAYING MARIJUANA REFORM IS ONE OF HIS TOP PRIORITIES.

WHILE MARIJUANA REFORM STAGNATES AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, INDIVIDUAL STATES ARE MOVING FORWARD WITH PLANS OF THEIR OWN.

EVEN IF YOU’RE SOBER, THIS CAN BE HAZY, BUT I’LL DO MY BEST TO BREAK IT DOWN.

ANYONE IS FREE TO USE MARIJUANA HOWEVER THEY’D LIKE IN 18 STATES; INCLUDING CALIFORNIA, NEW YORK, AND ILLINOIS.

ANOTHER 19 STATES HAVE EITHER LEGALIZED MEDICAL MARIJUANA, ALLOWED FOR SOME DECRIMINALIZED RECREATIONAL USE, OR BOTH.

NEBRASKA AND NORTH CAROLINA BOTH DECRIMINALIZED MARIJUANA BUT DON’T HAVE MEDICAL MARIJUANA PROGRAMS.

SEVEN STATES LET SOME PATIENTS USE LOW DOSES OF MARIJUANA, BUT ONLY IN CERTAIN FORMS.

AND FINALLY MARIJUANA ,IN ALL ITS FORMS , IS COMPLETELY ILLEGAL IN FOUR STATES INCLUDING SOUTH CAROLINA.

CONFUSED? WELL, YOU’RE NOT ALONE.

 

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY MACE:

IT IS CONFUSING, BECAUSE YOU HAVE THIS SORT OF PATCHWORK. AND AS STATES HAVE IMPLEMENTED CANNABIS REFORM, YOU’VE SEEN WHAT’S WORKED WELL AND WHAT HASN’T WORKED WELL. IT’S NOT NECESSARILY THE EASIEST THING TO DO AND YOU WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT YOU’RE RESPONSIBLE WITH IT AND DIFFERENT STATES HAVE DIFFERENT PRIORITIES.

SOUTH CAROLINA REPRESENTATIVE NANCY MACE, A GOP MEMBER IN A STATE WHERE MARIJUANA REMAINS (AS OF MAY 2022) COMPLETELY ILLEGAL, IS THE AUTHOR OF THE STATES REFORM ACT.

REPRESENTATIVE NANCY MACE:

WHEN I TELL PEOPLE WHAT THE BILL DOES, EVEN THE DIE-HARD CONSERVATIVES SUPPORT IT. WHEN THEY REALIZE, “OH MY GOSH, YOU’RE JUST PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF STATES AND MY STATE CAN DO WHAT THEY WANT TO DO? OH MY GOSH, HECK YES!”

IT’S BEEN CALLED “THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE FRAMEWORK FOR THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF CANNABIS AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL INTRODUCED BY CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS,” BUT TO DATE THE STATES REFORM ACT HASN’T RECEIVED THE SAME SORT OF TRACTION OR MEDIA COVERAGE AS THE MORE ACT.

JILLIAN SNIDER:

I WAS ACTUALLY A SPEAKER AT THAT BILL INTRODUCTION LAST YEAR, ON THE HILL. AND I THINK THE REASON THAT IT DIDN’T GET AS MUCH MOMENTUM, OR A LOT OF PEOPLE HAVEN’T HEARD A LOT ABOUT IT IS BECAUSE IT WAS INTRODUCED IN THE FALL. AND THEN WE ALL KNOW, CONGRESS IS LIKE SUPER BUSY TOWARDS THE END OF THE YEAR TRYING TO DO ALL THE OTHER THINGS.

JILL SNIDER WAS A COP IN NEW YORK BEFORE JOINING THE NON-PARTISAN THINK TANK R STREET. SHE SAID WITH THE MORE ACT STALLED AGAIN, AND THE 2022 MIDTERMS FAST APPROACHING, THE TABLE COULD BE SET FOR THE STATES REFORM ACT TO TAKE THE SPOTLIGHT.

LIKE THE MORE ACT, MACE’S BILL DECRIMINALIZES MARIJUANA AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL, ALLOWS FOR INTERSTATE COMMERCE AND EXPUNGES CONVICTIONS FOR NON-VIOLENT MARIJUANA-RELATED OFFENSES.

THE STATES REFORM ACT, LIKE THE MORE ACT, ALSO CREATES AN EXCISE TAX ON MARIJUANA SALES BUT THERE ARE SOME KEY DIFFERENCES HERE.

THE DEMOCRATIC-BACKED MORE ACT CREATES A 5% EXCISE TAX ON MARIJUANA, WHICH GROWS TO 8% AFTER THREE YEARS. CHUCK SCHUMER’S VERSION OF A MARIJUANA REFORM BILL, WHICH HASN’T BEEN INTRODUCED YET, IS SAID TO START WITH A 10% EXCISE TAX THAT BALLOONS TO 25% WITHIN FIVE YEARS. THE STATES REFORM ACT CAPS EXCISE TAXES AT 3%.

JILLIAN SNIDER:

I WORKED NARCOTICS AS A COP. WHEN THINGS ARE ILLEGAL, OR THINGS ARE LEGAL BUT JUST SO RIDICULOUSLY TAXED, IT’S STILL ALLOWING ROOM FOR BLACK MARKET FLOURISHMENT. SO, IF YOU’RE MAKING IT THAT DIFFICULT TO LEGALLY CULTIVATE AND SELL MARIJUANA, BECAUSE THE TAXES ARE 8%, YOU’RE STILL GOING TO HAVE THAT ILLEGAL ELEMENT. THERE’S GOING TO BE CRIMINALITY BECAUSE PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO PAY THAT.

 

UNDER CONGRESSWOMAN MACE’S BILL, THE TAX REVENUE GENERATED THROUGH EXCISE TAXES WOULD BE SPLIT AMONG THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, THE SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES.

THESE DISBURSEMENTS ARE SIMILAR TO THOSE OF THE MORE ACT, BUT OBVIOUSLY THE ACTUAL AMOUNTS DISTRIBUTED DIFFER.

STATES REFORM ALSO SETS 21 AS THE MINIMUM AGE LIMIT TO BUY MARIJUANA. THE MORE ACT DIDN’T SET AN AGE LIMIT.

REPRESENTATIVE MACE CALLS THE STATES REFORM ACT A “COMPROMISE BILL”, SAYING THERE’S SOMETHING IN IT TO MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY.

REP. NANCY MACE:

EVERY ELECTORATE IS DIFFERENT, AND WE ARE A REPUBLIC AND WE DO THINGS IN A MANNER THAT MAKES THE MOST SENSE. AND IT WILL ALSO STAND UP IN COURT, STAND UP TO THE CONSTITUTION, STAND UP TO THE SUPREME COURT.

 

AND MAKE NO MISTAKE,  MARIJUANA REFORM IS A MOSTLY POLITICALLY AGNOSTIC ISSUE.

MORE THAN ¾’S OF AMERICANS ALREADY LIVE IN A STATE WITH SOME FORM OF LEGALIZED POT, AND MORE THAN 90% OF U.S. ADULTS SAY POT SHOULD AT LEAST BE LEGAL FOR MEDICAL PURPOSES.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

SHOULD MARIJUANA BE LEGALIZED? OR SHOULD IT REMAIN LISTED AS A SCHEDULE 1 NARCOTIC ALONG WITH HEROIN, METH AND LSD?

LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS.

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Pot popularity

Pot. Weed. Grass. The devil’s lettuce. Whatever it’s called, marijuana use in the United States is booming. Public opinions may be changing quickly, but on Capitol Hill, support for marijuana legalization reform is stalled.

The House of Representatives voted twice in the last two years to pass the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. The Senate has failed to bring the bill up for debate despite Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) saying marijuana reform is one of his top priorities.

While marijuana reform stagnates at the federal level, individual states are moving forward with plans of their own.

Pot-law patchwork

Even when sober, understanding the breakdown of where pot is legal and illegal can be hazy.

Anyone is free to use marijuana however they’d like in 18 states, including California, New York, and Illinois. Another 19 states have either legalized medical marijuana, allowed for some decriminalized recreational use, or both. Nebraska and North Carolina both decriminalized marijuana but don’t have medical marijuana programs. Seven states let some patients use low doses of marijuana but only in certain forms. And finally marijuana, in all its forms, is completely illegal in four states, including South Carolina.

Confused?“It is confusing, because you have this sort of patchwork,” Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said. “As states have implemented cannabis reform, you’ve seen what’s worked well and what hasn’t worked well. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do. You want to make sure that you’re responsible with [marijuana reform], and different states have different priorities.”

Mace, a GOP member in a state where marijuana remains (as of May 2022) completely illegal, is the author of the States Reform Act (SRA).

“When I tell people what the bill does, even the die-hard conservatives support it,” Mace said. “When they realize, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re just protecting the rights of states and my state can do what they want to do? Oh my gosh, heck yes!’”

What’s States Reform?

It’s been called “the most comprehensive framework for the decriminalization of cannabis at the federal level introduced by Congressional Republicans.” To date, however, the SRA hasn’t received the same sort of traction or media coverage as the MORE Act.

Former NYPD Officer Jillian Snider is the Director of Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties at the non-partisan think tank R Street. She was at the introduction ceremony for the States Reform Act.

“I think the reason that [the SRA] didn’t get as much momentum, or a lot of people haven’t heard a lot about it is because it was introduced in the fall,” Snider said. “We all know Congress is busy towards the end of the year.”

Snider said with the MORE Act stalled again, and the 2022 Midterm elections fast approaching, the table could be set for the States Reform Act to take the spotlight.

What’s the difference?

Like the MORE Act, Mace’s bill decriminalizes marijuana at the federal level, allows for interstate commerce and expunges convictions for non-violent marijuana-related offenses.

The SRA also creates an excise tax on marijuana sales, but key differences exist.

The Democrat-backed MORE Act creates a 5% excise tax on marijuana, which grows to 8% after three years. Schumer’s version of a marijuana reform bill, which hasn’t been introduced yet, is said to start with a 10% excise tax that balloons to 25% within five years. The SRA caps excise taxes at 3%.

“I worked narcotics as a cop,” Snider said, “When things are illegal, or things are legal but just so ridiculously taxed, it’s still allowing room for black market flourishment. So, if you’re making it that difficult to legally cultivate and sell marijuana, because the taxes are 8%, you’re still going to have that illegal element.

“There’s going to be criminality because people don’t want to pay that,” Snider continued. “So with having a modest, smart level of excise tax, that’s really going to keep criminal behavior at bay. People who want to get into the marijuana space legally, they’re going to be able to do it.”

Follow the money

Under Congresswoman Mace’s bill, the tax revenue generated through excise taxes would be split among the Department of Justice, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services. These disbursements are similar to those of the MORE Act, but obviously the actual amounts distributed differ.

SRA also sets the minimum age to buy marijuana at 21. The MORE Act didn’t set an age limit.

Mace calls the States Reform Act a “compromise bill”, saying there’s something in it to make everyone happy.

“We need to remember every electorate is different, and we are a Republic and we do things in a manner that makes the most sense,” Mace said. “[The States Reform Act] will also stand up in court, stand up to the Constitution, stand up to the Supreme Court.”

Make no mistake: marijuana reform is a mostly politically agnostic issue. More than ¾ of U.S. adults already live in a state with some form of legalized pot, and more than 90% of U.S. adults say pot should at least be legal for medical purposes.

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