Republican Senator Cory Gardner and Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a new bipartisan bill that would allow U.S. states the right and freedom to legalize cannabis without the federal government interfering. The bill, formally named the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, is also sponsored in the House by Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer.
Gardner and Warren introduced the legislation as a response to the Trump administration’s strict stance against cannabis. The STATES Act would amend the Controlled Substances Act to include a framework saying that it no longer applies to states, non-state territories like Washington D.C., overseas territories like Puerto Rico and Guam, and tribal lands that have lawss relating to the production, possession, distribution, administration, and delivery of cannabis.
The two senators both represent states that have legalized recreational marijuana. Gardner is from Colorado while Warren is from Massachusetts.
According to Warren, it is time to reform America’s outdated cannabis policies.
She said that states like Massachusetts have put in a lot of work into implementing cannabis regulations, so they have the right to enforce their very own cannabis policies. The federal government, she added, needs to stop outlawing cannabis.
Meanwhile, Gardner said that outlawing legalized cannabis is the same as putting the ketchup back in the bottle. He also hit current financial institutions, which continuously makes it difficult for cannabis businesses.
In April, Gardner and Warren announced a partnership in an attempt to hold President Donald Trump to his word about leaving states alone and respecting states rights. Warren had said that their goal for the new bill is to ensure that each state keeps its right to determine the best approach to cannabis on its own.
Aside from protecting state-legal marijuana industries, the STATES Act also has a provision allowing cannabis businesses to access financial and banking services.
Warren has been working since 2016 toward reforming federal banking regulations in order to allow major banks and financial institutions to conduct business and enter into financial transactions with those in the cannabis industry without violating federal laws that prohibit these institutions from taking money from businesses that are in violation of federal drug laws.
Last month, Trump struck a deal with Gardner and pledged that he was going to leave state cannabis laws alone. He promised that he would support Gardner’s efforts to protect states where cannabis has already been legalized.
Trump’s statement had defused a months-long standoff between his administration and Gardner over Department of Justice nominees. Gardner had, in January, threatened to block all DOJ nominations after U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memorandum and directed federal attorneys to enforce the Cannabis Act.
Garden had said in a statement at the time that Trump assured him that Colorado’s cannabis industry won’t be targeted. In exchange, the senator was going to back down from his DOJ nominee blockade.
Gardner had said that since the campaign, Trump had consistently expressed support for the rights of the states to independently decide on their own cannabis approach. Now, Trump had assured him of his support for a federalism-based legislative solution to fix the issue regarding the states’ rights once and for all.
Since Trump’s assurance, Gardner had quietly been in talks with other senators with regard to a legislative solution that would make it black-and-white clear that the federal government absolutely cannot get in the way of state governments that have chosen to legalize cannabis. According to the senator, he and his colleagues had been working on a bipartisan legislative fix that is going to pass the House of Congress and then move forward to the president’s desk so that the president could deliver on his campaign promise.