Politics

Republican Rep. Nancy Mace introduces bill to federally decriminalize marijuana

On Monday, first-term South Carolina Republican Rep. Nancy Mace introduced a bill to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. Mace is hoping to gather more GOP support for legalization over time.

Mace spoke to reporters outside the Capitol where she introduced her States Reform Act. “This legislation, I believe, has something good for everyone, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican,” she said. Marijuana is currently legal in 18 states, with medical use allowed in 37 states, but it is technically still illegal under federal law. 

The bill would remove cannabis’ classification as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. That status makes possession of marijuana a crime, but Mace’s legislation would end that criminalization “in a manner consistent with the rights of states to determine what level of cannabis reform or legalization each state wants to regulate, or not.”

The bill would also allow federal convictions in nonviolent cases to be expunged, and it would provide a framework for federal regulation and enforcement in states that permit the sale of marijuana. People under the age of 21 would not be able to purchase marijuana, which Mace said would establish similar restrictions on cannabis as alcohol.

Despite the bill already having five Republican co-sponsors, the chair of the South Carolina GOP, Drew McKissick, disagrees with Mace’s effort. “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,” McKissick said in a statement.

A similar bill called the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act was passed in the Democratic-controlled House last year, but the bill died in the Senate, which was controlled by Republicans at the time. 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: AXIOS

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