Senators announce bill to protect states' ability to make marijuana laws
Sens. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican, and Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, introduced a bill Thursday intended to protect the laws of states that have legalized some form of marijuana from federal intervention.
The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act would ensure that states can make and enforce their own laws pertaining to the production and distribution of marijuana as long as states comply with a few federally-mandated basic protections.
Currently, 46 states and additional territories have laws permitting medical and/or recreational marijuana. Both Colorado and Massachusetts have legalized recreational marijuana. But on the federal level, the drug is still listed as a controlled substance with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” and it has been up to the Justice Department to decide how rigorously to enforce that definition.
The new bill follows an agreement Gardner reached with President Donald Trump in April, in which the Colorado senator dropped his hold on Justice Department nominees being confirmed in exchange for the president’s assurance that the DOJ would not target Colorado’s marijuana industry.
“Our Founders intended the states to be laboratories of democracy and many states right now find themselves deep in the heart of that laboratory. But it’s created significant conflict between state law, federal law and how we move forward,” Gardner, who said he had spoken with Trump about the bill Thursday morning, said during a press conference with Warren.
His agreement with Trump came a few months after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that his department would reverse Obama-era guidance that limited the prosecution of marijuana sales in states where it had been legalized.
At the time, Sessions said the previous guidance “undermines the rule of law.”
Warren noted that Sessions’ position on marijuana had actually spurred lawmakers to act to protect their states’ discretion on