Republican Congress members first introduced a bill in 2021 to federally legalize and tax marijuana—treating it similarly to alcohol—while promising not to interfere with states’ laws regulating its use. The bill was offered as an alternative to a Democratic-sponsored reform proposal. In 2021, the bill had only GOP sponsors. The new version of the bill, however, has both Democrat and Republican supporters. It is unclear what changes were made from the 2021 version as the text of the newly introduced bill is currently unavailable.
The original version of the bill incorporated expungements for non-violent cannabis convictions (excluding persons affiliated with a cartel or convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana) and a 3% excise tax to generate revenue for community reinvestment, veteran mental health programs, programs to combat opioid addiction, law enforcement, and the SBA. Retroactive expungements distinguish the States Reform Act from other proposed legislation. The bill’s proponents continue to struggle to gain support from their colleagues.
It is likely that incremental changes will occur well before an end to prohibition, but even incremental changes could be difficult to pass. Only time will tell the future of federal legalization. While it appears to have made strides toward legalization, it also appears to have a long way to go to cross the finish line.
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