A new US bill — the States Reform Act — aimed at decriminalising cannabis at the federal level was introduced to the House of Representatives on Monday (November 15).

The bill, developed by first-time lawmaker Nancy Mace, was previously circulated as draft legislation and it was unknown when it would be introduced.

Nancy Mace

The Republican Representative has described the proposed legislation as a “compromise” as it is less far-reaching than previous measures suggested by other lawmakers.

According to Mace, the bill has five Republican co-sponsors, although its path through the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives is uncertain.

Speaking at a press conference, she said it was pro-business, particularly small business.

She added: “If we were to pass this bill today… businesses would operate and be legal and regulated just like alcohol.”

As with alcohol, recreational cannabis use would be limited to people 21 years and older and advertising restrictions would apply. 

The bill would also expunge the records of people convicted of non-violent, cannabis-only offences and impose a 3% excise tax. 

It differs in a number of ways from the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act floated by senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and other senior Democrats in July.

While that proposal would give the Food and Drug Administration the main oversight role, the new bill limits FDA involvement to medicinal cannabis and gives the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau primary regulatory responsibility for interstate commerce.

Hannah Adler

Hannah is a communications professional and early-career researcher in the disciplines of health communication and health sociology. She is a PhD student at Griffith University currently writing a...