Bipartisan Legislation Introduced To Protect States That Have Legalized Marijuana

  • by NORML June 7, 2018

    [June 8, 2018 UPDATE: In the past 24 hours, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has reportedly pledged to permit a vote on the bill, while President Trump has publicly expressed his support for it.]

    Today, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced bipartisan legislation, The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018, to remove the threat of federal intervention and prosecution in states that regulate marijuana use and sales. A bipartisan House companion bill has been introduced by Representatives David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

    This marks the first bicameral, bipartisan legislation to end the federal enforcement of prohibition in states that have reformed their marijuana laws.

    Send a letter to your elected officials NOW

    NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri commented:

    “President Trump made a commitment to Senator Gardner that he was willing to support a federalist approach to state marijuana laws. Now Congress must do its part and swiftly move forward on this bipartisan legislation that explicitly provides states with the authority and autonomy to set their own marijuana policies absent the fear of federal incursion from a Justice Department led by militant cannabis prohibitionist Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

    Specifically, this legislation:

    • Creates an exemption to the Controlled Substances Act for US states and territories that have reformed their laws with regard to marijuana policy, effectively restraining undue federal intervention
    • Maintains federal legislative provisions (aka “guardrails”) to deter:
      • The interstate trafficking of marijuana into prohibition states from legal states
      • The prevention of those under 18 from working in the cannabis industry
      • The prevention of those under 21 from purchasing marijuana (unless recommended by a state-qualified physician to treat a medical condition)
      • Unsafe production conditions
    • Provides greater flexibility for lawmakers in non-legal states to reform their laws in a manner that reflects the will of the of their constituents and regulates cannabis commerce
    • Provides the ability for cannabis businesses to obtain basic banking services
    • Removes industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act

    NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:

    “With the announcement of The STATES Act by Senators Gardner and Warren, the movement to end the federal government’s failed policy of cannabis criminalization has truly become a bipartisan effort.”

    “The majority of states now regulate marijuana use and more than six out of ten voters endorse legalizing the plant’s use by adults, making it time for the federal government to no longer stand in the way of this progress at the state level.”

    Never in modern history has there existed greater public support for ending the nation’s nearly century-long experiment with marijuana prohibition. The continued criminalization of adult marijuana use is out-of-step with the views of adults throughout America, 93% of whom support medical marijuana (Quinnipiac, 2017) and 64 percent of whom endorse the outright legalization of recreational cannabis (Gallup, 2017).

    The STATES Act is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). It is cosponsored in the House by Representatives Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Ken Buck (R-Colo.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Dianna DeGette (D-Colo.), Rob Blum (R-Iowa), Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Matt Geatz (R-Fla.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), Luis Correa (D-Calif.), Jason Lewis (R-Minn.), and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.).

    “Outdated federal marijuana laws have perpetuated our broken criminal justice system, created barriers to research, and hindered economic development,” said Senator Warren. “States like Massachusetts have put a lot of work into implementing common sense marijuana regulations – and they have the right to enforce their own marijuana policies. The federal government needs to get out of the business of outlawing marijuana.”

    “In 2012, Coloradans legalized marijuana at the ballot box and the state created an apparatus to regulate the legal marijuana industry. But because of the one-size-fits-all federal prohibition, state decisions like this put Colorado and other states at odds with the federal government,” said Senator Gardner. “The federal government is closing its eyes and plugging its ears while 46 states have acted. The bipartisan STATES Act fixes this problem once and for all by taking a states’ rights approach to the legal marijuana question. The bipartisan, commonsense bill ensures the federal government will respect the will of the voters – whether that is legalization or prohibition – and not interfere in any states’ legal marijuana industry.”

    “We should trust the people of the states, like Ohio, who have voted to implement responsible common-sense regulations and requirements for the use, production, and sale of cannabis,” said Representative Joyce. “If the people of these states have decided to provide help for those veterans and others suffering from pain and other health issues, we should allow them access without government interference.”

    “For too long the senseless prohibition of marijuana has devastated communities, disproportionately impacting poor Americans and communities of color. Not to mention, it’s also wasted resources and stifled critical medical research,” said Representative Blumenauer. “It’s past time to put the power back in the hands of the people. Congress must right this wrong.”

    Thirty states, Washington, DC and the US territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis, while an estimated 63 million Americans now reside in jurisdictions where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. Voters overwhelmingly support these policy changes. According to a 2018 Quinnipiac University poll, 63 percent of Americans support full marijuana legalization and 70 percent believe that states, not the federal government, should set marijuana policy.

    NORML has released a letter with over 55 supportive organizations for The STATES Act.

    To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue. Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that over 149,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

    Send a message to your lawmakers in support of the States Act now!

    38 responses to “Bipartisan Legislation Introduced To Protect States That Have Legalized Marijuana”

    1. TheOracle says:

      The House needs to get on board. I want to be able to enjoy New York City the way I enjoy Amsterdam. I should be able to go to the NYC equivalent to the Paradiso in Amsterdam. Is she holding a couple of joints or what is that in the link?


      Enjoy cannabis at the club too! Paradiso’s got a wide variety of nighttime activities.


      Bill de Blasio, are you listening? I should be able to visit your tourist attractions.


      Big Apple, you got nothing close, and neither does San Francisco that I can tell.

      Just legalize. The argument for keeping cannabis illegal is underwhelming.

    2. TheOracle says:

      To prohibitionists, I say , my health isn’t a fucking political football. It’s not about states’ rights versus federal supremacy. It’s about a cure, something effective that works for epilepsy and other things people are stricken with. If there is a cure or lead to a cure for epilepsy and other afflictions in cannabis, the government is just playing games by not throwing their full weight into legalization and by that actually promoting research that leads to cures. Every politician from every state that has legalized cannabis in some form should be behind this legislation in both chambers. Prohibitionists, listen to John Boehner and get the fuck out of the way!

      • Dain Bramage says:

        You damn right, Oracle! My health is not a goddamn football, either! That’s the bottom line!

        Give them hell!

    3. Julian says:

      We have a High-stakes poker game now.
      Leafly reports the big opposition is coming from NNOAC and Sheriff’s Associations… the very people who stand to lose millions in federal grants:


      No big surprise. The major motivation by Anslinger in originally prohibiting marijuana was to create a needless beaurocracy and steal our tax dollars.

      For “conservatives” it’s about voter turn out. For Republicans this bill gets two birds stoned at once: For the majority leader It deschedules hemp in such a way that states like his get a head start in the profit. At the same time Koch-Republicans get the opportunity to temporarily switch positions on marijuana and hemp right before a conservative farmer’s revolt during midterm elections.
      Even Putin knows he could lose the Senate, which already refuses to nominate another AG. So a concession has been made to con-Sessions… a gamble… a bill that MIGHT keep Garderns seat at the expense of Koch-driven policies that do NOT like this bill.

      But even more ironic is that Senators like Cruz and Cornyn here in Texas will remain defiant allowing Beto Orourke to capitalize on the lack of state efforts to protect state rights or even help small farmers who could be growing hemp in Texas right now under legal federal research programs. Democratic candidate for Texas Ag Commissioner Kim Olson just released a statement today at the end of Hemp History Week supporting hemp legalization while racist Republican vantriliquist dummy Sid Miller continues to oppose it.

      Gardner and Trump are playing High stakes poker. We’re calling their bluff. Pot’s right and almost legal. Don’t forget the score:


    4. Julian says:

      BTW, Great work Justin, Erik, Paul and team NORML. It must not be easy trying to remain bipartisan in a political climate this toxic. Even though not all the players are playing with a full deck, we have to keep Congress accountable, and there’s nothing like an historic election to keep the pressure up. Thanks for all you do!

    5. alton johnson says:

      you need to make it easier to share your petitions,…

    6. MR.CC says:

      If I were Trump what would I have to lose by changing the law, his diehard followers have no where else to go, he might pick up a few million more votes in 2020 under total nationwide legal, would everyone still vote Democrat if Trump did what no other president in history would not do, think about it, Trump does like to make history…

      • Dain Bramage says:

        Mr. CC,
        Respectfully, you fail to grasp Trump’s motives. He has ZERO interest in governing.

        Stop right there, and repeat this fact to yourself. He has ZERO interest in governing USA.


      • Julian says:

        Oh he makes history alright… the infammy kind.

        What worries me is the greedy parasite keeps throwing our national security in a deal as if it was just to annie up.
        He canceled the Iran deal because he said Obama made the worst deal ever… so Iran gets to keep their money we unfroze from international bank accounts and continue to stockpile nuclear weapons without inspections? That’s a better deal Donnie?
        Now he canceled our joint military exercises with South Korea. That’s it. That was the deal with Kim Jong Un… the only tangible, physical order to emerge from one of the most importantly wasted opportunities of this century.
        So what should we expect after he negotiate$ with prohibitionist interests over signing… or tweaking… the STATES Act? The only thing we have riding for us is that Trump supporters are so brain washed they don’t know how important Obama’s Cole memos were, so they will give all the credit to Trump. Even though it’s Congress that has been forced to represent us and have now replaced the Cole memo with tangible legislation.

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