Legislation rolled out Thursday by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators would protect states where marijuana is legal from federal interference.
“We just want the federal government to get out of the way and let them do it,” Warren said of states, including her home state of Massachusetts, that have moved forward with legalization of marijuana. The measure is needed, she and others said, because of fear of violating federal laws that prevent the industry from growing.
It’s time to reform American’s outdated marijuana policies. Watch live as @SenCoryGarder and I discuss our new legislation that would let states, territories, & tribes decide for themselves how best to regulate marijuana – without federal interference. https://t.co/BVcvxomhld
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) June 7, 2018
The proposal would change the federal Controlled Substances Act to say that as long as states comply with some stated protections, people in those states who follow state law aren’t subject to federal penalties. It also would make clear that state-legal transactions are not federally-illegal drug trafficking. It also removes industrial hemp from the list of federally controlled substances.
“Outdated federal marijuana laws have perpetuated our broken criminal justice system, created barriers to research, and hindered economic development,” said 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.”
Warren, a Democrat who was joined at a news conference in Washington by Republican U.S. Cory Gardner of Colorado, said the measure was needed to allow the business to operate and allow people who use cannabis to do so without fear of federal prosecution in states where it’s been made legal. Among the concerns is the use of cash in the business because of fears in the banking industry about federal prosecution.
Forcing a multibillion dollar industry to operate in all cash is bad for business and bad for safety,” Warren said.
Warren also said federal law against marijuana had fallen disproportionately on people of color and “devastated” their communities.
Gardner said the issue was one of the right of states to reflect local will, and not be bound by what lawmakers from other states want. He also said the federal government needs to realize that states that have legalized cannabis aren’t going to undo that. “The ketchup’s not going back in the bottle,” he said.
“Our founders intended the states to be laboratories of democracy,” Gardner said. The states’ rights argument is reflected in the title of the legislation, “The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act.”
In the House, the proposal will be sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon, and Rep. David Joyce, a Republican from Ohio.