Thursday, September 28, 2023

Schumer or Mace, Whose Cannabis Reform Bill Is Better?

Whose legalization bill and by extension which congressional candidates are executives of the U.S.’s highest-valued cannabis companies supporting?

By Maureen Meehan

Federal cannabis reform will be created in the image and likeness of whichever political party is in office when it finally happens. But the buzz question now is Schumer or Mace, whose cannabis reform bill is better? And which one is the industry going to support?

And don’t we know it. In fact, last week Bill Maher bemoaned that “Republicans are going to steal the issue, I think eventually.” The Real Time talk show host, who was speaking with former attorney General Eric Holder, is probably right.

legal marijuana
Photo by Dmitriy83/Getty Images


Republicans, with their keep taxes low and government regulation to a minimum approach, might be better equipped psychologically and practically to legalize cannabis, their conservative Christian wing notwithstanding.

Whereas the Dems are more disposed to taxes, regulations and, to their credit, a strong emphasis on social equity and justice as seen by an across-the-board push for expungement, their prohibitionist President notwithstanding.

How Do We Know This?

Just take a look at the two major cannabis reform proposals — one from each party — that have been circulating in and out of the halls of Congress as well as state legislatures.

Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer along with Sens. Cory Booker and Ron Wyden launched their Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act (CAOA), which will, we’re told, be introduced in August after several false starts.

RELATED: Why Chuck Schumer Might Act On Cannabis Banking Sooner Rather Than Later

Then there’s Rep. Nancy Mace’s (R-SC) States Reform Act (SRA), which when introduced in 2021 was warmly greeted.

Both bills would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, thus legalizing it federally…a good start. Many in the industry concur that the Dems’ CAOA leans more toward social justice and therefore enjoys support from the Marijuana Justice Coalition, which includes the ACLU and Human Rights Watch.

Mace’s SRA is more big-business centered and enjoys the backing of the Cannabis Freedom Alliance, which includes the Koch-funded group Americans for Prosperity.

could marijuana legalization unite a divided country
Photo by strelov/Getty Images

RELATED: Sen. Lindsey Graham Open To Medical Marijuana, Rep. Nancy Mace Votes Against MORE Act

So, whose legalization bill and by extension which congressional candidates are executives of the U.S.’s highest-valued cannabis companies supporting?

If you guessed Nancy Mace, go to the head of the class.

Cannabis Wire did some digging into the Congressional campaign contributions made by executives of the following multistate operators:

Ascend Wellness

Ayr Wellness

Canopy Growth

Columbia Care

Cresco Labs

Curaleaf Holdings

Green Thumb Industries



Verano Holdings

Of these companies, six CEOs made a campaign contribution in 2022. Four of them gave to Mace alone. One gave to Mace and to Gary Chambers, a Democrat from Louisiana who is running for Senate. And one gave only to Chambers, who made headlines in January when he smoked a joint in one of his campaign ads.

So yeah, Bill Maher might have a point.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.


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