Meet the GOP congresswoman using ‘states’ rights’ to legalize cannabis  

States’ rights.  

It’s been used in conflicts ranging from secession to Jim Crow laws to Medicaid expansion.  

Now, a Republican congresswoman from South Carolina is using a states’ rights argument to decriminalize cannabis in her state. 

U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace filed “The States Reform Act,” marking the most recent attempt to remove cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act. 

Mace noted that all but three  states have some form of legal cannabis but the laws vary by state.  

“Cannabis reform at the federal level must take all of this into account. And it’s past time federal law codifies this reality,” Mace said in a press release.  

She added that her proposal would remove cannabis from Schedule I “in a manner consistent with the rights of states to determine what level of cannabis reform each state already has, or not.” and This bill “supports veterans, law enforcement, farmers, businesses, those with serious illnesses, and it is good for criminal justice reform.”  

“The States Reform Act takes special care to keep Americans and their children safe while ending federal interference with state cannabis laws. Washington needs to provide a framework which allows states to make their own decisions on cannabis moving forward. This bill does that,” Mace said in a statement.  

The bill would create a federal minimum age of 21 to consume cannabis. People younger than 21 could use it with a medical exemption. The bill, which she called a compromise that would satisfy members of both parties, would also give states the ability to make their own laws regarding cannabis use.  

“I put a lot of thought in how we could make this kind of legislation palatable for people on both sides of the aisle and across every state in the country recognizing that all states are different,” she said.  

South Carolina does not have a medical or adult use cannabis program, but it does allow the use of the non-psychoactive cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD. A bill to legalize medical cannabis in South Carolina was debated during this year’s legislative session, but ultimately failed. 

Mace became the first Republican woman elected to Congress from South Carolina when she was elected in 2020. She previously served in the South Carolina state house, representing the state’s 99th district from 2018 to 2020.  

In 2019, Mace successfully advocated for the inclusion of a rape and incest clause in the state’s fetal heartbeat abortion ban. While advocating for the clause that would give victims of rape and incest the right to have an abortion, Mace shared that she was raped when she was 16. She has said she doesn’t believe in abortion, but also doesn’t think the government should tell victims of rape or incest if they are allowed to have an abortion.  

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