“While Senator Gardner is calling this a “states” rights’ approach, this bill essentially amounts to the federal legalization of marijuana”, said Kevin Sabet, president of the anti-cannabis group Smart Approaches to Marijuana or SAM.
Their legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Act to make it inapplicable in those states, federal territories, and tribal lands that have passed some form of marijuana legalization.
Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States (STATES) Act. “I know exactly what he’s doing”, Trump told reporters. “But I probably will end up supporting that, yes”.
“These are archaic laws that don’t just hurt individual people”, Warren said at the Thursday morning press conference.
But U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reiterated this week that he has made no such guarantees and that the Justice Department intends to enforce federal drug laws, according to Colorado Public Radio.
Gardner has told reporters that he spoke with Trump before introducing the bill and expects he’ll sign it. Under the new bill, banks would have the freedom to issue loans or give investments without fear of federal prosecution. The legislation would allow states to pursue liberalized marijuana policies as they see fit, they said.
“Outdated federal marijuana laws have perpetuated our broken criminal justice system, created barriers to research, and hindered economic development”, Warren said.
Sessions, a seasoned drug warrior who hates marijuana, has rescinded an Obama-era memo that generally protected legal marijuana businesses from federal raids, and asked lawmakers to ditch a longstanding policy that has prevented federal law enforcement from interfering with the medical marijuana industry.
Most of the Senate’s amendments are minor, but about a dozen are significant – including one to allow provinces to prohibit home cultivation of cannabis if they choose. David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), is pending in the House of Representatives.
But even with bipartisan support, the bill still faces opposition.
The bill calls for establishing a graduated tax rate on marijuana sales over several years, and calls for tax rates from 10 percent to 25 percent over four years. In fact, it is in the individual states where the most progress toward legalization has been realized and where efforts are focused this year.