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Learn about the new Republican caucus for Congress

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Last week’s new introduction led by Republicans Marijuana legalization bill It was not just a conservative response to Democrats’ current proposals. She also served as the Republican Party’s next generation of legalization advocates.

The State Reform Act represents the emerging party of a new generation of Republican legalization advocates.

Representative Nancy Mays garnered the most media attention for her work last week, and rightly so. The congresswoman from Charleston deserves credit for standing up for a cause that so many of her fellow Republicans have–even in own state partyOpposes or ignores.

mace bill, and states reform law (HR 5977), removes cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances, allows states to regulate it as they like, imposes a 3% federal tax, and focuses tax revenue on law enforcement rather than equity programs.

It also performs a crucial function: May’s proposed law provides cover for a new generation of elected Republicans ready to end Prohibition. it’s huge. So far, Democratic proposals have dominated talk of cannabis in Congress. The State Reform Act provides a Republican-led vehicle that allows members of the Republican Party to publicly support the legalization movement.

Mays’ bill opened with four co-republican sponsors. They are:

  • Representative Brian Mast (Rep., Florida)
  • Representative Peter Major (R-Michigan)
  • Representative Tom McClintock (R-CA)
  • Representative Don Young (R-Oklahoma)

Two of them — Alaskan Rep. Don Young and California Rep. Tom McClintock — have explicitly supported legalization for years. Others are relatively newcomers to the issue, and they have demonstrated an ability to work with Democrats, and represent the mainstream of the post-Trump Republican Party.

Together, they form a new, unofficial Republican cannabis caucus. They are an interesting group.


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Meet Nancy Mays, Head of the Gathering

Pictures of Nancy Ajram
Representative Nancy Mays (Republic-SC) speaks during a press conference on a cannabis reform bill she introduced, Monday, November 15, 2021, on Capitol Hill, Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Nancy Mays something DifferentA former Waffle House waitress becomes the first woman to graduate from The Citadel. Breaking open The Citadel – the former all-male South Carolina military academy that was long one of America’s most conservative boys’ clubs – has proven its resolve and, after a brief career in business consulting, is now causing a stir in Congress.

Mace is young and deeply biased towards Trump. But it goes against Trump’s party line when it comes to conservation, as it has a more Sierra Club-friendly record than Exxon. The Conservation voters in South Carolina Mace gave a lifetime rating of 100%, in part because he stood against oil drilling off the shores of South Carolina.

Meanwhile, the South Carolina corporate-backed Growth Club has campaigned extensively for Mace and awarded her the 2019 Taxpayer Hero Award. The low tax philosophy is reflected in the Mace legalization bill, which sets the federal cannabis tax rate at 3%, well below 10% to the 25% proposed by Democrats.

Brian Mast: A Florida veteran with a freelance streak

Congressman Brian Mast
In this 2016 photo, Representative-elect Brian Mast (R-Fl). He leaves after newly elected members of the House of Representatives gather to pose for a photo of a new student on the steps of the Capitol. Mast is a rising Republican in a major area of ​​Florida. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Brian Mast represents a major neighborhood in Florida, encompassing Palm Beach County and Port Saint Lucy. This is a strong republican area. He is also a politician of the rising new generation in the Republican Party, a veteran who lost both legs fighting in Afghanistan.

Mast was also able to identify a convenient stance hostile to the party line. he is broke out with the party line led by the National Republican Party about gun control in 2018, after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, not far from his hometown.


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Peter Major: Michigan moderate defends democracy

Pictures of Peter Major and Jill Biden
Able to get through the aisle: Representative Peter Major (R-Michigan) welcomes First Lady Jill Biden upon her arrival at Gerald R. A county in a legal jurisdiction in which adults are employed. (AP Photo/Caroline Custer, pool)

Peter Major represents the good people in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan, a classic Republican town on Main Street, exemplifying her favorite son, President Gerald Ford, moderate Republican values ​​that seem radically bizarre by today’s standards.

Meijer has shown a willingness to work across party lines (see photo above), and is willing to defend democracy even when the rest of the Republican Party rejects it. Major was one of ten Republican members of the House of Representatives who voted to impeach President Donald Trump after the January 6 Capitol attack. As a result, it has recently attracted a Trump-backed challenger The former president personally endorsed him.

Meijer was born into the family that founded the Meijer supercenter chain, one of the dominant retailers in the upper Midwest. succeeded a challenge Republican Representative Justin Amash, who lost his seat after losing to President Trump with his call for Trump’s impeachment.

As it happens, Amash was one of the few Republican members of Congress A call for federal legalization of cannabis.

Tom McClintock: California led bipartisan legalization efforts

Tom McClintock, Congressman
Representative Tom McClintock (R-CA) represents a temperate district that includes Sacramento, the state capital that leads the country in the production and sale of legal cannabis. (Alex Edelman/Pool via AP)

Tom McClintock is a six-term congressman whose California county includes the eastern suburbs of Sacramento and a large area of ​​the Sierra Nevada region. It was one of the legalization movement strongest supporter for several years.

In 2016, McClintock supported Proposition 64, the initiative to legalize cannabis use for all adults. In 2017 and 2018, he partners With Democratic Rep. Jared Polis to defend patients and adults in legal states from federal arrest and trial.

Don Young, Old Man of Alaska

Photo of Alaskan Congressman Don Young
US Representative Don Young, a longtime advocate of the law, is the longest-serving Republican member of the US House of Representatives. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, file)

Young is a property of an earlier generation of Republican legalization advocates. Those were a bunch of hardened curses like Young, and old bear hunter From Fort Yukon, formerly Representative Dana Rohrabacher, the Reagan-era conservative who demonstrated his role as a political provocateur.

“I am an ardent supporter of the states rights approach to cannabis use,” Young said in a media statement last week. “For too long, the federal government has stood in the way of states that have worked to set their own cannabis policies. It has been a long time since we updated our cannabis laws for the 21st century. My two states legalized adult cannabis use in 2014, and as Alaska’s sole representative in the House of Representatives and President Participant of the cannabis rally, I am proud to help advance the states reform law.”

Young is the longest-serving Republican in the House of Representatives.

A new kind of republican legalization bill

The Mace’s State Reform Act is seen as a serious effort, in part because the bill contains measures similar to those in the MORE Act and Senator Chuck Schumer’s legalization proposal, while introducing interesting twists such as a lower federal tax rate. Timing matters, too: The Republican-led action is a way to open negotiations about what some GOP members will find acceptable in a comprehensive, combined legalization bill, at a time when a legalization bill (the More Act) has already passed in the House just a few months ago.

Previous Republican efforts to legitimize were largely limited to single, abandoned bills. The last one we saw was cannabis reform law Co-sponsored by Representative David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Representative Don Young. He went anywhere. (Rep. Justin Amash presented confirmation invoice He’s on his way out the door in 2019, but he’s already given up his Republican affiliation and introduced the bill as an independent.)

It’s unclear why Representative Joyce, who still represents Ohio’s 14th district (suburbs of Cleveland and parts of the east), has yet to sign Mays’ new bill. As a bipartisan Republican, Joyce seems to fit right in with this new generation of GOP legalization advocates.

Florida Rep. Matt Gates was The only republican sponsor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Removal (MORE) Act, which the House successfully passed in late 2020. But Gaetz has since become a target of Investigation into possible sex traffickingNo serious sponsor of a bill would seek its endorsement or sign on for obvious reasons.

Can Schumer or Biden move forward?

Now that President Biden has signed a trillion dollars A two-party infrastructure package into law, there may be room to consider a legalization proposal that contains enough Democratic and Republican votes to move forward in the Senate.

Biden loves to talk about bipartisan solutions to America’s problems. Here is where the rubber hits the road. This new crew of Republicans is coming out and supporting national cannabis legalization. They are party members who have proven themselves able to cross the current party line on some issues. They are the new members of the de facto Republican Cannabis Caucus. They are not here to score points Tucker Carlson tonight. They are here to legitimize.

Democrats in Congress, and Democrat President Biden, must prepare to work with them.

Bruce Barcot

Leafly’s editor, Bruce Barcott, oversees news, investigations, and featured projects. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and author of Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.

View articles by Bruce Barcot

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