House Republicans debuted their first comprehensive cannabis decriminalization and regulation bill Monday on Capitol Hill, but support from within their own party was mixed. The States Reform Act was introduced by S.C. Rep. Nancy Mace, who was joined by GOP Reps. Tom McClintock (Calif.), Brian Mast (Fla.), Don Young (Ak.) and Peter Meijer (Mich.).
More House Republicans are waiting to sign onto the bill until after it is introduced, Mace told POLITICO — and she is already talking to senators about the bill, which she says has something for both Republicans and Democrats.
“Whether you’re Republican or whether you are a Democrat, there is something in this bill for each of you,” Mace said on Capitol Hill Monday. “This is a 70/30 issue across — not only my district — but across the country.”
South Carolina’s Republican Party did not get the same memo as Mace, however.
“Unequivocally, the South Carolina Republican Party is against any effort to legalize, decriminalize the use of controlled substances, and that includes this bill,” the SC GOP said in a statement.
Other reactions: Weldon Angelos, a prison reform advocate who received a pardon from former President Donald Trump, said he believes the criminal justice portions in Mace’s bill are better than those in the draft version of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act proposed by Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) earlier this year.
“Most people would expect a Republican bill to be watered down and have terrible provisions for the criminal justice portion,” he told Mona. “This bill is very good.”
What about hemp? Industry officials praised the Mace proposal for tasking USDA with overseeing cannabis cultivation, regardless of its level of Delta-9 THC concentration. They also applauded its dual designation as both an agricultural commodity and a specialty crop, which would allow hemp farmers to potentially access additional pots of federal funding.
“They’ve shown a willingness to listen to industry stakeholders and make changes where appropriate,” said Graham Owens, president of Delta Agriculture and co-chair of the National Industrial Hemp Council’s board of directors, speaking of the USDA. “FDA has been a tougher cookie to even get in touch with. … We keep hearing what they don’t want when they reject studies. But we have no idea what they actually want.”
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