Congressman seeks to legalize marijuana nationwide, bypassing rescheduling debate

legalize marijuana congress

Cannabis advocates are still waiting to see if the Biden administration will accept recommendations to reschedule cannabis, but one Ohio legislator is taking matters into his own hands.

Republican Representative David Joyce told Forbes this week that he plans to introduce a bill that would legalize marijuana nationwide. Tentatively dubbed the “STATES 2.0 Act,” the measure is an updated version of a bill Rep. Joyce co-authored in 2019.

The new legislation would remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and put the plant’s fate in states’ hands. While the bill does not explicitly call for interstate commerce, state governments could decide if they want to allow for the import and export of cannabis products.

“States and [Native American] Tribes have had enough with the federal government’s half-in-half-out approach that is applied without rhyme or reason,” Joyce said in an interview with Forbes. “Numerous tribes and over 40 states now, including my own, have made it clear that the federal government needs to support their cannabis laws. I’m hopeful this legislation will do just that.”

Unlike the rescheduling recommendation, which would make cannabis a Schedule III drug regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, Rep. Joyce’s bill would see the plant treated like alcohol or tobacco. The rescheduling vs. de-scheduling debate has caused a rift in the cannabis community, with many arguing that the latter is the only path to full legalization.

The bill comes as the Drug Enforcement Agency continues to drag its feet on cannabis reform. Rep. Joyce’s bill gives states the ability to decide whether they want to legalize cannabis, putting the GOP-backed “states’ rights” issue at the forefront. Some analysts believe Republicans are inclined to move on cannabis reform in order to win support during a crucial election season.

Andrew Freedman, executive director of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education and Regulation, told Forbes he believes the bill has a good chance of bipartisan support in Washington.

“In theory, this has everything that a Republican should want while moving away from the nonsensical stance the federal government has had on cannabis.”

Rep. Joyce said he intends to file the bill as soon as possible. As lawmakers struggle with chaos on Capitol Hill, the legislation may or may not see the light of day. However, given the political climate, it may stand a good chance of debate. If it were to be signed into law, the cannabis industry, as it’s now known, would likely improve significantly thanks to an open market and reduced tax burdens.


Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist and Editor of She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, Cannabis and Tech Today, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter