Photo taken from inside the canopy of an indoor recreational cannabis grow site in Bellingham, Washington.

Pat Beggan

Sens. Warren & Gardener Introduce Cannabis Legalization Protections for States; Trump Reportedly Onboard

On Thursday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) introduced a bipartisan bill that would ensure states have the right to regulate cannabis, reports The Hill. The bill is titled the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.

The bill is a reaction to the Trump administration’s stance against cannabis legalization. The bill would modify the Controlled Substances Act to include language indicating it no longer applies if in conflict with state, territory, or tribal laws “relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of [cannabis].”

“It’s time to reform America’s outdated marijuana policies.”  — Sen. Elizabeth Warren, announcing the bill in a Twitter broadcast

“This city of Denver, the state of Colorado, can collect taxes … they can take it to the bank. But if you’re in the business, if you work for the business, you can’t get a bank loan or set up a bank account because of the concern over the conflict between the state and federal law. We need to fix this public hypocrisy.” — Sen. Cory Gardner to the Washington Post

President Trump has indicated he would likely support the STATES Act, as reported by the Washington Post. Asked by journalists during a Rose Garden news conference about his stance on the bill, Trump said he supports Sen. Gardner and is considering backing the bill. As a Presidential candidate, Trump previously said cannabis legalization should be up to the states.

The primary opponent in the federal government to state-level cannabis legalization is U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions has long been an opponent of legal cannabis. In January, the Justice Department rescinded the Cole Memorandum and, last May, Sessions sent a letter to congressional leaders asking them to remove the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, which prevents the DOJ from using federal money to prevent states from implementing their own cannabis laws.

Trump, however, has had a cold relationship with Sessions since taking office, having criticized him publicly on several occasions about his behavior during the Russian election interference investigation.

“I have talked to the president about this bill. In previous conversations he talked about the need to solve this conflict. He talked about his support for a states’ rights approach during the campaign. Not putting words in the mouth of the White House, but I think this will be an opportunity for us to fulfill what is that federalism approach.” — Sen. Cory Gardner to the Washington Post

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