Warren, Gardner introduce state option marijuana bill
June 7, 2018
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., today introduced a bill that would allow states rather than the federal government to regulate marijuana.
The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act or the STATES Act would amend the Controlled Substances Act to include a framework that says it no longer applies to those following state, territory or tribal laws "relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of (marijuana)," The Hill noted.
A bipartisan house companion bill was introduced by Reps. David Joyce, R-Ohio, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., Cannabis Business Times noted.
Forty-six states have laws permitting or decriminalizing marijuana or marijuana-based products, and Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and a number of tribes have similar laws, the four authors of the bill pointed out in a news release.
"As states developed their own approaches to marijuana enforcement, the Department of Justice issued guidance to safeguard these state actions and ensure practical use of limited law enforcement resources," they noted.
"However, this guidance was withdrawn earlier this year, creating legal uncertainty, threatening public health and safety, and undermining state regulatory regimes."
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"Outdated federal marijuana laws have perpetuated our broken criminal justice system, created barriers to research and hindered economic development," Warren said.
"States like Massachusetts have put a lot of work into implementing commonsense marijuana regulations — and they have the right to enforce their own marijuana policies. The federal government needs to get out of the business of outlawing marijuana."
"In 2012, Coloradans legalized marijuana at the ballot box and the state created an apparatus to regulate the legal marijuana industry," Gardner said.
"But because of the one-size-fits-all federal prohibition, state decisions like this put Colorado and other states at odds with the federal government. The federal government is closing its eyes and plugging its ears while 46 states have acted."
"The bipartisan STATES Act fixes this problem once and for all by taking a states' rights approach to the legal marijuana question," Gardner said. "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 National Conference of State Legislatures endorsed the bill.
"NCSL supports Congress' bipartisan attempt to create a state option for marijuana legalization," NCSL Executive Director William Pound said in a news release.
"The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act enhances state sovereignty and empowers states to craft smart, tailored polices that reflect the will of voters," Pound said.
"This federal framework provides states with the tools necessary to build effective, state-specific policies and regulations ensuring public safety and economic growth. NCSL continues to support states' sovereignty, respectively, to determine the best legislative path forward, free of preemption and federal overreach."