Bicameral, Bipartisan Legislation to Protect State Marijuana Laws Introduced in Congress

Apr 04, 2019


Statement below from Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Steve Hawkins, who is also available for interviews

WASHINGTON — Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), David Joyce (R-OH), and Maxine Waters (D-CA) introduced legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives Thursday that would end the federal government’s war on marijuana and protect states’ rights to enact their own marijuana policies.

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act would amend the Controlled Substances Act to exempt marijuana-related activities conducted in compliance with state, territory, or tribal laws. It would also protect banks that work with marijuana businesses and legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp.

The STATES Act was first introduced in June 2018, at which time President Trump said he “probably will end up supporting [it].” According to Gardner, the president previously “assured [him] that he will support a federalism-based legislative solution to fix this states’ rights issue once and for all.”

Ten states, D.C., and the Northern Mariana Islands have enacted laws making marijuana legal for adult use. Thirty-two states, D.C., and four U.S. territories have adopted comprehensive medical cannabis laws, and 17 additional states have enacted some form of medical cannabis law.

Five out of seven Americans (71%) — including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and all age groups — are opposed to the federal government enforcing prohibition laws in states where marijuana is legal for medical or adult use, according to a February 2017 Quinnipiac University poll.

Statement from Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project:

“This bipartisan legislation signals the eventual end of marijuana prohibition at the federal level. It reflects the position held by a strong majority of Americans that states should be able to develop their own cannabis policies without interference from the federal government. It also reflects the position President Trump took on marijuana policy throughout his campaign, and we are hopeful that he will have the opportunity to sign it into law.

“While we look forward to the day when Congress is ready to enact more comprehensive reform, we fully embrace the states’ rights approach proposed by this bill. Nearly every state in the nation has enacted reforms that roll back the failed policy of marijuana prohibition in one way or another. This legislation will ensure those laws are respected by and protected from the federal government."

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