Bipartisan “Compromise” Bill Indicates Budding Future for U.S. Cannabis Industry
By: Allison Burke
Recent bipartisan efforts to end the fifty year federal-marijuana prohibition are shaking the Cannabis-industry. America’s leaders are politically-progressing to reflect the growing societal acceptance of the cannabis plant. In fact, the percentage of American adults who oppose cannabis legalization has substantially declined from 52 percent in 2010 to 32 percent today, according to a Pew Research Center Survey. Notably, over 90 percent of Americans say cannabis products should be medically-legal, and fewer than 10 percent of Americans prefer that cannabis laws remain unchanged.
On November 15, 2021, Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina proposed a bill to decriminalize cannabis on the federal level, giving deference to state legislatures on matters of prohibition and regulation. The proposed State Reform Act, coined the “compromise bill”, would effectively regulate cannabis similarly to alcohol. Like alcohol, purchasing cannabis would be prohibited for those under twenty-one years old. The Bill would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act, where it currently holds classification as a Schedule I substance. This would eliminate many legal issues faced by cannabis-industry entrepreneurs, and open the door to greater support by banks and investors.
Adult-use of cannabis is currently legal for recreational use in 18 states and medical use in 36 states, and will yield nearly $31 billion in sales for 2021. This accounts for an unbelievable 41% increase over 2020 sales. With the State Reform Act on the horizon, one can imagine the budding potential of this industry. Even more “good news” for those already licensed to operate within the market in legalized-states, is they will be “grandfathered in” to the federal permit that will be required if the Bill is passed.
The Bill differs from previous legislation by imposing a 3% excise tax. Instead of appointing the Food and Drug Administration to provide total regulatory authority over Cannabis, the Bill proposes the FDA only handle medical cannabis, and its interstate and international trade would instead be regulated by the Treasury’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (to be potentially renamed the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Cannabis Trade Bureau).
As a public policy matter, the significance of a GOP Congresswoman proposing a bill to end the federal-cannabis prohibition is huge when one realizes that in 1971, fifty years ago, the War on Drugs was declared by GOP President Nixon. Generational differences have even surpassed wide partisan differences, and the super-majority of Americans are in agreement. Cannabis laws are in major need of an overhaul.
Social equity was a major casualty to the War on Drugs. This Bill makes room for impartiality, fairness, and justice by expunging records of Americans convicted of non-violent, cannabis-only offenses. Rep. Mace expects the Bill to result in the release of an estimated 2,600 incarcerated Americans, empowering the return of cannabis-related social equity in America. It would even protect our veterans’ access to hiring and benefits by preventing discrimination for cannabis use.
"This bill supports veterans, law enforcement, farmers, businesses, those with serious illnesses, and it is good for criminal justice reform," Representative Mace said. “It has something good for everyone, Republicans and Democrats,” Mace said, noting the super-majority of Americans in favor of the underlying policy. Regardless of party affiliation, it seems Americans are rolling with the times and ready to light up the cannabis -market.
Greenbelt is a Los Angeles based boutique consulting group dedicated to helping businesses navigate the ever-evolving Cannabis industry. With a collective 50 years of diverse experience working with dynamic, industry-leading brands and companies, our national team provides c-suite concierge support through various segments of the industry that include: fundraising, land use & development, compliance & licensing, and access to a network of cultivators, laboratories, manufacturers, and distributors for all varieties of Cannabis products, to ensure maximum exposure in the marketplace.