WASHINGTON, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Republicans in the U.S. House
of Representatives introduced legislation on Monday that would
decriminalize marijuana at the federal level and eliminate legal
hazards facing many cannabis-related businesses while regulating
its use like alcohol.
Representative Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who is
spear-heading the legislative effort, described the bill as a
"compromise" with less onerous regulations than measures
proposed earlier by other lawmakers including Democrats.
The legislation's path in the Democratic-controlled House
was uncertain. Mace, a first-term lawmaker, said the measure has
five Republican co-sponsors.
Adult use of cannabis is legal https://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx
in 18 U.S. states and allowed medically in 36 states. But it
remains illegal under federal law, which has deterred banks and
other investors from involvement with companies that sell
marijuana or related products.
"This bill would also support businesses, in particular
small businesses. That's very important," Mace told a news
conference. "If we were to pass this bill today ... businesses
would operate and be legal and regulated just like alcohol."
Titled the States Reform Act, the Republican legislation
would defer to state authorities on matters of prohibition and
It would prohibit marijuana use by those under 21, restrict
advertising, protect access to hiring and benefits for veterans
who have used cannabis and expunge the records of people
convicted on nonviolent, cannabis-only related offenses.
The bill diverges in several important ways from draft
proposed in July by Senate Democrats including Senate Majority
Leader Chuck Schumer.
Mace's bill would impose a 3% excise tax on cannabis,
compared to an increasing Senate tax proposal that would top out
at around 25%.
Where the Senate proposal would give the Food and Drug
Administration a primary oversight role, the Republican
legislation limits FDA involvement to medical marijuana and
makes the Treasury's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
the primary regulator for interstate commerce.
(Reporting by David Morgan; editing by Grant McCool)
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