Freshman Republican lawmaker introduces bill to decriminalise marijuana

Freshman Republican Rep Nancy Mace of South Carolina has announced legislation to federally decriminalise cannabis as more voters support legalising marijuana.

Ms Mace’s bill would decriminalise cannabis on the federal level, which she said would allow for states to have the power to regulate and prohibit the drug. This would be done by taking it off the Schedule I list under the Controlled Substances Act.

Similarly, it would require that the US Department of Agriculture regulate cannabis like a crop, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to regulate it like a drug and the Food and Drug Administration regulate it for medical use. It would also place a three per cent tax on cannabis products to fund enforcement.

“When we’re looking at cannabis reform at the federal level, we have to understand, take into account all of the different provisions, reforms, regulations and laws that are already existing across different states across the bill,” she said at a news conference Monday.

In addition, the bill would also expunge the records of people who have been convicted only for non-violent offenses only related to cannabis. The bill would also prevent veterans who use medical marijuana from being discriminated in hiring or losing their benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Ms Mace noted that the legislation includes ideas both Democrats and Republicans have proposed.

“This legislation something I believe has something good for everyone, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican,” she said.

At the same time, she said her law would incentivise states to raise the legal age for cannabis to 21.

Ms Mace’s legislation comes as more Americans support legalising cannabis. A survey from Pew Research Centre found that 60 per cent of Americans think marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use and an additional 31 per cent say it should be available for medical use only.

But support is slightly smaller among Republicans, with only 47 per cent Republicans and Republican-leaning independents saying marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use and an additional 40 per cent saying it should be legal solely for medical use. That is compared to 72 per cent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who say it should be legal for medical and recreational use.

Earlier this year, Senate Democrats unveiled legislation to legalise marijuana, spearheaded by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden and Sen Cory Booker.

At the same time, President Joe Biden, a Democrat, supports decriminalising marijuana federally but opposes legalising the drug, McClatchy reported.

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