H.R. 3884 would federally decriminalize cannabis (marijuana), expunge the records of people convicted of federal cannabis offenses, and require resentencing of some federal prisoners. As a result, CBO estimates, thousands of current inmates would be released earlier than under current law. In the future, decriminalization also would reduce the number of people in federal prisons and the amount of time federal inmates serve.
In total, over the 2021-2030 period, CBO estimates that H.R. 3884 would reduce time served by 73,000 person-years, among existing and future inmates. CBO’s analysis accounts for time served by offenders convicted of cannabis-only crimes and by those convicted of another crime in addition to a cannabis offense.
Federal prisoners generally are not eligible for federal benefit programs. By reducing the prison population, CBO estimates, H.R. 3884 would increase the number of federal beneficiaries, compared with current law, and thus increase direct spending for federal benefit programs by $636 million over the 2021-2030 period.
CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation estimate that H.R. 3884 would increase revenues, on net, by about $13.7 billion over the 2021-2030 period by creating business income, compliance, and occupational taxes; those increases would be partially offset by allowing certain deductions for business expenses associated with trafficking controlled substances.
H.R. 3884 also would impose an excise tax on cannabis products manufactured or imported into the United States, which would be deposited into the Opportunity Trust Fund established by the act. CBO estimates that the Department of Justice would spend about $3.0 billion from the fund over the same period to provide job training and legal aid, among other services, to people harmed by the “war on drugs.” The Small Business Administration would spend about $2.7 billion over the ten- year period for state and local grants to make loans to cannabis-related small businesses that operate in the cannabis industry and help governments develop cannabis-licensing rules.