Amazon Shows Support for Republican-Led Federal Cannabis Legalization Bill
February 15, 2022 03:00 pm ET
Estimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
There are politicians who support cannabis for a vote, and then there are politicians who you can tell just get it. Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina is one of those politicians who just gets it.
As well as understanding that the war on drugs was a massive waste of time, Mace understands that the people want legalization and won’t stand down until their representatives hear them loud and clear. Additionally, as someone who has openly admitted to utilizing cannabis to help herself get through one of the most trying times of her life, she understands the general medical benefits that this plant offers.
She was quoted as saying the following regarding cannabis in a recent article by Forbes:
“It’s American, it’s uniting. There are three things that really bring people together—animals, Britney Spears, and cannabis. Those are the three things I’ve found that have struck a chord with the American people and that can bring people together at the dinner table—just like apple pie.”
In November 2021 Mace introduced legislation known as the States Reform Act with the hope of reforming cannabis-related laws at the federal level. Although cannabis reform bills have historically failed to pass both the House and Senate, Mace has some unlikely contenders in her corner. Not only does the Koch brothers’ conservative organization Americans for Prosperity support this bill, but so does Amazon! Let’s take a closer look at what this piece of legislation is proposing.
The Nitty-Gritty of the States Reform Act
While this piece of legislation will not exactly legalize cannabis across the country, it would make some absolutely substantial changes. At a high level, here are the major changes that the States Reform Act would bring forth if passed:
- Removes cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act
- Opens doors for cannabis banking services
- Opens the door for legal pathways for interstate commerce within the United States and the respective states that opt to also remove cannabis from their state-level Controlled Substance Acts or the equivalent
- Establishes a 3% federal excise tax on cannabis purchases
- Provides protection for veterans from employment discrimination based on cannabis consumption and allows for doctors within the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend cannabis products to patients who may benefit from cannabinoid therapies
- Requires nearly all non-violent federal cannabis convictions to be automatically expunged within one year of passage without the need for individuals to retain counsel or apply for expungement
- Renames the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Cannabis, Firearms, and Explosives and makes the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau responsible for regulatory aspects
If passed, states would no longer be able to cling to the excuse of federal illegality and would be open to legalizing, decriminalizing, or otherwise reforming cannabis laws at the state level. According to Forbes, Mace “…estimates that if her bill were to pass, and some 2,800 federal prisoners incarcerated for non-violent cannabis crimes were released and another 1,100 or so people who get put in prison for similar crimes each year are not incarcerated, the government would save nearly $600 million over five years.”
Amazon Offers Up Support for the States Reform Act
Amazon announced in June that it would be excluding cannabis from the majority of its pre-employment and employment drug screenings. At this time, the retail giant also began lobbying for cannabis legalization. Since then, representatives with the company have met with Mace and vowed their support for the States Reform Act.
Brian Huseman, Amazon’s vice president of public policy, stated the following in regard to the States Reform Act: “This bill offers comprehensive reform that speaks to the emergence of a bipartisan consensus to end the federal prohibition of cannabis.” Like Mace stated, “There’s a million reasons to end federal prohibition and the only place where this is controversial is up here [in Washington, D.C.]. It’s an enormously popular idea. America is like: ‘WTF, D.C., why have you not done this yet?’”
Support for cannabis legalization has risen dramatically among Americans in recent years. One survey conducted by market research firm YouGov in November 2021 showed that 57% of Americans support full cannabis legalization, and many other polls reflect similar sentiments. Seeing a retail giant such as Amazon speak out publicly in support of what many consider to be a controversial subject is a clear sign that the times are changing.
How Does This Cannabis Bill Stand Apart from the Rest?
Not only does this legislation have the support that other bills have not, but it also offers changes that would have a positive ripple effect throughout our society. The aspect regarding interstate commerce is a game-changer that could substantially fuel the industry and the economy if passed. The job market expansion would also be quite substantial, opening the doors for thousands of new jobs.
While the lower 3% excise tax rate might not make many politicians smile, it is much more in line with what a federal tax should look like in comparison to other proposals. The expungement of nonviolent cannabis-related charges would also start to open more doors for the communities most affected by the war on drugs, offering opportunities to enter the burgeoning sector that have historically remained closed for many.
Not only would we not be incarcerating people over a plant, but we would also be freeing up resources to solve real crimes as well as taking a strain off of our prison systems. We would be taking a real step toward rectifying the wrongdoings of the failed war on drugs. Most importantly, though, we would be making nature legal once again—as it should always have been.
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