Colorado Senator Cory Gardner (R) and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) have teamed up to create marijuana reform legislation called the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (STATES).
In a statement, Gardner said, “The federal government is closing its eyes and plugging its ears while 46 states have acted. The bipartisan, commonsense bill ensures the federal government will respect the will of the voters – whether that is legalization or prohibition – and not interfere in any states’ legal marijuana industry.”
The bipartisan effort would not legalize cannabis, but it would give additional protections to states that have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana. The STATES Act would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to make it illegal for the federal government to prosecute people who are complying with local, state, or tribal cannabis laws. The bill also spells out that marijuana transactions operating within the law should not be considered trafficking, potentially opening up banking to the cannabis industry.
In a joint press conference with Gardner, Warren explained, “The science is clear: Medical marijuana treatments are effective. There is absolutely no reason patients should be prevented from seeking scientifically approved care, but right now, that is the reality for millions of people across the country. These archaic laws don’t just hurt individual people. They also hurt businesses that are in the marijuana business from getting access to banking services. That forces a multi-million-dollar industry to operate all in cash. That’s bad for business and bad for safety.”
In addition to access to medical marijuana and banking services, Warren wants to reform drug laws that have resulted in “widespread discrimination these policies foster across our communities…that have devastated communities of color.”
Gardner primarily sees marijuana issues from a states’ rights perspective, but he also believes that it’s time to legitimize the marijuana industry. “It’s time that we take this industry out of the shadows, bring these dollars out of the shadows and make sure we hold these people accountable for an industry that states are moving forward with regardless of the pace of business in Washington, D.C.”
The STATES bill would also remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances prohibited under the CSA.
Read a STATES Act Fact Sheet here.