Under the Controlled Substance Act of the federal government, marijuana is a schedule 1 substance, which is a category of substances with a high potential for abuse. Now, Republican lawmakers have shown interest in legalizing cannabis federally.
However, some of the state governments in the U.S. have passed laws that allow the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. In 1996, the state of California passed a law that allows the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, and in 2016, it legalized cannabis for adult recreational use as well.
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In all these attempts for legalizing the use of cannabis, Democrats have been far more active than Republicans, who have mostly tried to thwart the attempts for making marijuana accessible to the public. This equation seems to be changing with the introduction of the cannabis reform bill known as the States Reform Act (SRA) of 2021.
SRA was introduced by Rep. Nancy Mace and co-sponsored by five republican representatives from the country. The Act is proposed to put an end to the federal government’s prohibition on the use of cannabis products and also to leave the states free to decide the status of marijuana within their territories.
Till now, efforts to free cannabis from restrictions were led by democrats, the latest of which is the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act of July 2021. This act proposes to remove cannabis from the list of banned substances and to regulate the legal use of its products across the country. The Act is co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
The majority of Americans, that is, about 70% of them, have been in support of legalizing cannabis use but the opposition from Republicans has always created problems in giving people proper access to cannabis.
The Republican section has been worried that easy access to cannabis will cause substance dependency among youth. To minimize this risk, the SRA has made 21 the minimum age for cannabis use for adults, and states have been given the right on how to regulate the use of cannabis within their boundaries.
The Act also prohibits advertising cannabis to young Americans. There has been a lot of disagreement among Americans belonging to different walks of life on how best to regulate the use of cannabis.
The comprehensive structure of the States Reform Act has been able to find a solution for much of the misgivings of these various groups like industry stakeholders, skeptics, advocates, and evangelists.
Public safety advocates are happy about the age limit set for the use of cannabis countrywide, except in cases where the use is recommended by a medical professional. Medical cannabis companies are satisfied with having space for further research and development to create more sophisticated medical marijuana products.
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Cultivators have to follow the best practices for cultivation and also maintain proper environmental standards as they have always done.
One very positive aspect of the bill is that it is giving nonviolent cannabis offenders a second chance in their life. Those who have been once arrested for growing and consuming cannabis will, as such, get a chance to participate in the newly emerging cannabis industry through the help of state-based social equity programs.