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Rep. Nancy Mace on cannabis: 'The only place this is controversial is in Washington D.C'

Rep. Nancy Mace ( R- South Carolina) joins Yahoo Finance to discuss decriminalizing marijuana and the possiblity of a bipartisan bill.

Video Transcript

SEANA SMITH: Representative Nancy Mace, a Republican from South Carolina, introducing legislation this week to decriminalize marijuana. Some of her conservative colleagues, though, that are critical of the bill, they're vowing to stop her efforts. But we want to discuss this with Representative Mace. She's joining us now from DC. And Congresswoman, it's great to see you. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us.

NANCY MACE: And thank you for having me today.

SEANA SMITH: So we want to talk a little bit more about this bill. This proposal is getting some pushback from some of your conservative colleagues. There's a similar bill that's being discussed in this Senate, led by Democrat Chuck Schumer, just to name one of the members here that is leading those efforts. Talk to us just about how the bills differ and why not make this a more of a bipartisan effort.

NANCY MACE: Well, this bill is meant to be bipartisan. I've worked on cannabis legislation before I ever came to Congress as a state lawmaker in South Carolina. I drafted this bill. I put a lot of thought and effort into making it palatable to members of both parties on both sides of the aisle. This particular bill, it does decriminalize it. It deschedules it off of schedule one.

But there are different, unique ways that it is different. There are prohibitions against advertising and marketing to kids under the age of 21, the way that it's regulated more like alcohol than anything else, using the USDA for growers, the ATF for product, PTB for interstate commerce, their imports and exports provided for. I'm going to call it FDA Light for medical cannabis that's been legalized in states for medical use.

And then this really gives states-- it doesn't change anything for states today. So for example, there are 47 states that have some form of cannabis reforms or legalization in their state. My home state of South Carolina, they allow for and permit CBD. Florida has medical cannabis. Places like California, Colorado, they have adult use cannabis. And so this bill recognizes every state is different. It doesn't change that, but allows the federal government to get out of the way, have a low excise tax, and regulatory framework for states to operate the way they already are today and have been for years, and in some cases, decades.

ADAM SHAPIRO: And it would allow, essentially, the banking aspects of the businesses, which are legal in states that have allowed it to take place, to be legal so that they could bank, as opposed to having to do all of these things in cash. But I'm curious.

NANCY MACE: Correct.

ADAM SHAPIRO: President Biden has, I believe, at one point, he was opposed to this. So if you get this through the House and, you know, it is a bipartisan effort in the Senate and it passes, what guarantee do you have maybe that Biden would support it, or would he veto it?

NANCY MACE: Well, we don't know at this point. You know, I'm trying to add on more Republicans to the bill. And then we were talking to Democrats both in the House and the Senate. We're getting a lot of great feedback from both sides of the aisle. People know that it's past time that we do this. This is not a controversial issue. The only place this is controversial is in Washington, DC. The vast majority of Americans, about 70%, agree that we need cannabis reforms, that this needs to happen in this country, including my home state of South Carolina, where it's a 70/30 issue.

So it's past time that federal law catches up to where states have already been. It's very much common sense. It's low taxes. It gets the federal government out of the way of what's already happening. And, you know, the push of the American people and industry, we're talking about a $25 billion industry this year.

And by 2025, we're talking about a $75 billion industry. Imagine that kind of economic impact, not only through the taxes and funding that we could do to provide safer communities and educate kids and prevent and reduce the opioid pandemic, opioid epidemic in many states. This is a really good bill that both sides of the aisle really, I believe, will support in the end. It's a starting point, too, so.

SEANA SMITH: And representative, what are some of the conversations that you're having with some of your colleagues on the GOP side, who have come out and have come out against this bill, vowing to strike it down if it does go to a vote? How are you-- I guess, what are those conversations like? And how are you addressing some of their biggest concerns?

NANCY MACE: I haven't seen those comments. I'd want to look at them before I respond on what they're saying specifically about the bill they do not like. This was drafted in a way that I believe has something to offer for everyone, whether you're conservative, whether you're moderate, whether you're whether you're on the left or progressive or Republican. There's something for both sides of the aisle here.

And that's why I spent a lot of time. I spent about nine months on this bill, something that I campaigned on. And I put a lot of thought into making it comprehensive, but a very simple framework that both sides of the aisle can support.

And let's face it, not everyone will support this kind of legislation. It's never been 100% fealty on this particular issue. But it is one where we have to catch up with what's already happening. And as you were mentioning earlier, with this bill, if it were to be signed into law today, there's no need for a Safe Banking Act because these businesses that are already operating legally in their states would be recognized federally as legal businesses as well.

So I'd want to see the comments. But I do want to say, there were some comments from the state party, Republican Party in South Carolina, that I am aware of that came out the day this bill was filed. It's ironic because CBD was legalized in South Carolina by a Republican legislature, a very Republican state. There's an effort by Republicans in South Carolina to offer medical cannabis. There will be a hearing on that bill in January.

So this is really a nonpartisan issue. And if we're going to do it responsibly, then we've got to do it together. And Republicans have to have a seat at the table. Not only that, we've got to have a voice to the conversation to be part of crafting such an effort.

ADAM SHAPIRO: You know, I'm glad you brought up the state Republican Party because this seems like a pure, hey, this is a states' rights issue. And what your bill does is lets--

NANCY MACE: Totally.

ADAM SHAPIRO: --the states determine. But when you bring up the Republican Party, I mean, you're taking a stance here against the old guard. And it's refreshing to see younger people like you rising in leadership in Congress. But what's the message when a state party has said, we're going to oppose you, despite the record you played out for us, or even what we saw-- it's not related to cannabis, but the Republican Party in Wyoming essentially trying to expel Liz Cheney. What is the message Republican state parties are sending to people like you?

NANCY MACE: Well, certainly, for someone like me, I actually campaigned on this issue. And when we talk about kicking people out of parties and censoring our own members and those kinds of things, we really ought to unify. And we saw how Glenn Youngkin unified the party in Virginia and what the end result was, which was pretty remarkable, pretty remarkable enormous swing that independents came back to Republicans with the way that he won Virginia. And we saw that in race after race after race in the last few weeks.

But when we unify together as a party and we offer solutions, and we don't just say-- point at each other or point at Democrats and say, well, they're just bad, and we're not going to work with them, that's not the way to move this country forward and to bring people together.

And in the age of divisiveness, I've been a victim of political violence. I had someone spray paint my house this summer. My car was keyed last year. And I'm a single mom. I get threats from the far right and the far left. We've got to have strong leaders with strong minds and strong backs that are willing to push back when these things kind of happen and offer a solution to move our nation forward.

SEANA SMITH: Representative Nancy Mace, it was great to have you. Thanks so much for taking the time. And we hope to have you back on Yahoo Finance soon.