Senators Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Cory Gardner, a Republican from Colorado, introduced a new bill on Thursday that intends to protect states with liberal marijuana laws from federal persecution, which in the past has been most severe. The bill is the culmination of the entire country’s wishes, and is one desperately required in the legal cannabis marketplace.
The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment through Entrusting States Act, or simply STATES for short, would guarantee states the right to make and enforce their own cannabis laws without federal interference, especially those pertaining to the cultivation, distribution and sale of marijuana, provided states comply several basic protections mandated by the federal government.
Right now, 46 states and some outlying territories have laws already in place allowing medical or recreational marijuana, some even both. Colorado, California, and Massachusetts: These states have legalized cannabis for recreational use. However, at the federal level, weed remains a drug listed as Schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
Drugs in this category, which include the likes of heroin and LSD, have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” which is, frankly, outdated hogwash. It is the unhappy job of the United States Justice Department to choose how rigorously it wants to police that definition. Science already proves hundreds of medical applications for cannabis, and nobody has ever overdosed on it.
This new Senate bill is the result of an alleged agreement made between President Donald Trump and Gardner back in April this year, in which the Senator from Colorado, in exchange for assurance from Trump that the Department of Justice would refrain from targeting Colorado’s pot industry, would drop his hold on confirming nominees for the Justice Department.
“Our Founders intended the states to be laboratories of democracy, and many states right now find themselves deep in the heart of that laboratory,” Gardner said in a press conference he shared with Warren, where he confessed to discussing the bill with Trump himself on Thursday morning. “However, it has created significant conflict between state law, federal law, and how we move forward.”
Gardner’s agreement with Trump comes just a few months after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his department’s intention to reverse Obama-era guidelines that restricted federal agencies from prosecuting cannabis sales occurring in states that had legalized it. Back then, Sessions stated unequivocally that Obama’s guidance “undermines the rule of law.”
According to Warren, it is statements such as this by Sessions that clarify his stance on cannabis and have actually prompted lawmakers to implement measures that protect their states’ right to decide on the issue. “Thanks to the Attorney General, more people feel the urgency of the moment in changing federal law on marijuana,” she said.
“Go Jeff Sessions,” Warren quipped. Should this bill pass, she explained that states would not have to “rely on the Justice Department to be more forgiving” any longer. The bill would set in stone the right that states have to decide themselves how they wish to approach the issue of cannabis within their borders. It would comply with federal mandates already in place.
The bill would still prohibit anyone younger than 18-years of age from working in the marijuana industry. It would also ban the distribution and sale of pot at safe transport facilities, such as truck stops and rest stops. That is not all; the bill would also keep prohibited the sale of weed to anyone under the age of 21-years, except in legitimate medical cases.
However, the bill would clarify that cannabis companies conducting business in states with legal laws are engaging in lawful commerce. It would enable them to enjoy all the advantages of traditional commercial activities, such as claiming business tax deductions and using the banking system. “Clarity is important,” Warren said. “Important for businesses and important for the people who use marijuana.”
Gardner did not intend to speak on behalf of President Trump, but he did suggest that his supporting the effort would make a lot of sense. “I think this will be an opportunity for us to fulfill what is that federalism approach,” Gardner said. The Marijuana Policy Project, a group advocating for full legalization nationwide, had nothing but praise for Warren and Gardner’s bill.
In fact, conservative outreach director for the Marijuana Policy Project, Don Murphy, made a statement, “While we look forward to the day when there is full acceptance of cannabis at the federal level, we heartily embrace the states’ rights approach proposed by this bill.” The majority of citizens in the United States are in full agreement too, which they consistently show in polling results.