Elizabeth Warren, Colorado Republican look to protect states that legalized marijuana from federal crackdowns
With states facing uncertainty over federal enforcement of marijuana laws, U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Gardner are looking to provide legal certainty and protections to those that have approved laws legalizing or decriminalizing the substance.
The senators announced Thursday that they have introduced legislation to ensure that states, Washington D.C., U.S. territories and federally recognized tribes have the right to determine the best approach to marijuana within their own borders in a way that is safe and respectful of their neighbors.
Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, said the bill, known as the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States, or STATES Act, would fix the current discrepancy between state and federal statutes that has impacted the industry’s access to banking and Americans’ ability to pursue medical marijuana treatments, among other things.
Gardner, a Colorado Republican, stressed that the measure would not legalize marijuana at the federal level, but simply allow states that have passed such laws to move forward without the threat of federal interference.
“If a state like Oklahoma or Kansas, or Nebraska choose for themselves not to do this, they do not have to — the federal law remains the same. Nothing changes for them,” he told reporters during a Capitol Hill press conference. “But for those states, like Massachusetts and Colorado, this is the opportunity our founders intended: Allow states to be those laboratories of democracy.”
Specifically, the bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act so it no longer applies to any person acting in compliance with state or tribal laws when it comes to manufacturing, producing, possessing, distributing, dispensing, administering or delivering marijuana — as long as states and tribes comply with a few basic protections.
It also seeks to address financial issues caused by the current federal