Bipartisan Legislation Introduced To Protect States That Have Legalized Marijuana

[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 thoughts

  1. It’s progress.

    I support the legislation. But Cory Gardner (R-CO) is a fraud. Make no mistake about it, he opposes marijuana legalization.

    I support this legislation. But, even better that this patchwork, bandaid, states’ rights approach, would be to legalize marijuana nationwide, and be done with it. Only the Democrats are willing to do that.

    We don’t need any Republicans at all. They are extortionists. Their support for legalization is meaningless when they have no respect for the rule of law at all, as is plainly documented by their unwavering support for their God Emperor Shit-For-Brains.

    They only support marijuana legalization as a marketing tactic, to try and preserve the GOP and it’s fascist agenda, which opposes marijuana legalization.

    In plain English, it’s a trick. Don’t fall for it.

    Support the legislation, yes, by all means; but continue to oppose the Republicans. Don’t thank them. Please: Do not thank the bastards! They still support Traitor Trump. Let’s not grovel, for fuck’s sake.

    1. Cory Gardner (R-CO) opposes marijuana legalization. As noted above in the NORML article, Gardner doesn’t oppose federal prohibition, he opposes “one-size-fits-all” federal prohibition. In other words, prohibition for other states, just not his. I call bullshit on Cory Gardner.

  2. Introduction:
    Many federalists, such as James Madison, argued that the Tenth Amendment was unnecessary because the powers of the federal government are carefully enumerated and limited in the Constitution. However, British oppression had made the Founding Fathers fearful of unchecked centralized power.

    Further reading:
    “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…” – NORML

    “Ratified in 1791, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution embodies the general principles of Federalism in a republican form of government. The Constitution specifies the parameters of authority that may be exercised by the three branches of the federal government: executive, legislative, and judicial. The Tenth Amendment reserves to the states all powers that are not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, except for those powers that states are constitutionally forbidden from exercising.” —

  3. So (please see my previous post) Prohibition is illegal within a general Federalism.

    Further reading:
    “…nowhere in the federal Constitution is Congress given authority to regulate local matters concerning the health, safety, and morality of state residents. Known as police powers, such authority is reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment. Conversely, no state may enter into a treaty with a foreign government because such agreements are prohibited by the plain language of Article I to the Constitution.

    Many federalists, such as James Madison, argued that the Tenth Amendment was unnecessary because the powers of the federal government are carefully enumerated and limited in the Constitution. Because the Constitution does not give Congress, the president, or the federal judiciary the prerogative to regulate wholly local matters, Madison concluded that no such power existed and no such power would ever be exercised. However, British oppression had made the Founding Fathers fearful of unchecked centralized power. The Tenth Amendment was enacted to limit federal power. Although it appears clear on its face, the Tenth Amendment has not been consistently applied.” —

    1. Todd,
      We don’t have to pretend to be constitutional lawyers to know marijuana prohibition is bullshit.

      “Unchecked centralized power” is exactly what Trump wants, and has nearly achieved — a dictatorship. So fuck Trump, and fuck the Republicans.

      I don’t need to appeal to Federalism to justify ending marijuana prohibition. Fundamental civil and human rights alone demand an end to the War on Drugs.

      Federalism gives states the RIGHT to prohibit cannabis. But I don’t support FEDERAL OR STATE marijuana prohibition.

      Federalism, as a principle, doesn’t end marijuana prohibition. Rather, it fractures and weakens USA. Republicans say they love America, but they sure as hell hate a UNITED States of America.

      Republicans want to use the tragedy and crime of marijuana prohibition in order to extort support for Federalism, by which they mean Republicanism.

      Don’t fall for it. The 10th Amendment is safely enshrined in the Constitution; But Republicans are the biggest single threat to the US Constitution today. See “Mueller investigation” and Trump’s claims of Absolute Power in response.

      If you love state’s rights, or any citizens rights at all, then logically you must hate Trump. (But, of course, there are plenty of other good reasons to hate Trump, also.)

      We don’t need any more parasitic Republicans, wrapping themselves in fancy words, fake traditions, and phony patriotism. Name-dropping of historical figures doesn’t impress me.

      James Madison? He can bite me! Shocked? Get over it.

      It is the USA itself that is at risk of destruction, by Putin and his little bitch Trump, with the complicit support their Republican cult devotees.

      None of this talk of Federalism represents an end to prohibition; it is merely a struggle over who gets to wear the badge. We can do better than that.

      End marijuana prohibition! Vote Democratic!

      1. re; The 10th Amendment is ‘safely enshrined’ in the Constitution.

        what the fu*k does that matter ???
        the federal gov’t. shits on the constitution EVERY DAY.

        90 % OF WHAT the federal gov’t. does, is ILLEGAL, under the constitution.

        the federal gov’t. does not give a damn about the constitution, or any laws; they have ‘run amok’ many decades ago.

        they killed JFK, RFK, MLK, and many others.

        they go to war, without any vote from congress.

        the CIA, smuggled cocaine, to fund the ‘contras’.

        the pentagon ‘lost’ (stole) 20 trillion dollars.

        the ‘federal reserve’ is unconstitutional, and all their ‘federal reserve notes’ are, too.

        the NSA and FBI, spying on all citizens, is blatantly illegal.

        and of course, alcohol prohibition was declared unconstitutional, and illegal, by the supreme court, but that did not stop them from passing the CSA, which is just prohibition, by a different name.

        the 10th Amendment, did not stop anything.

      2. re; Republicans want to use Federalism,

        you are blinded by hate.

        just because Republicans want to use Federalism,
        does not mean it is bad;
        Republicans also use money, food, oxygen, and cars;
        so you better not use any of those things, either.

        re; Federalism, fractures and weakens USA.

        Federalism, helped end slavery, and end alcohol prohibition.

      3. re; Dain Bramage says:
        Traitor Trump is the biggest threat to the US Constitution.

        1. duplicate posts detected;
        you allready said that…

        2. the constitution was a SHAM,
        from day one !!

        when ‘we’ fought england,
        for independance,
        only 3 % of ‘us’ fought,
        and most of those were;

        a. drafted,
        b. conned into it,
        c. promised a fat payoff, which they NEVER RECIEVED. (merceneries)

        (many deserted or mutinied)

        and that war benefited ONLY the rich and powerfull, who did not fight.

        the ENTIRE PURPOSE of the constitution,
        was to convince us,
        that the rich and powerfull,
        would rule over us,
        FOR OUR BENEFIT !!!

        HA ! HA ! HA !

        3. you’re so dumm !
        you’re so dumm !
        the empire’s gonna get ya,
        and here, they come !
        (from robot chicken’s star wars special)

      4. Most marijuana arrests occur on a state level.

        The 10th Amendment does not legalize marijuana.

        Why are the Trumpanzees acting like it does?

        Because they are idiots, and so proud of it, too! That is just disgusting to me.

        No points for Trump here!

      5. No, the 10th amendment doesn’t legalize it, but the 14th amendment does offer protection, under the Equal Protection Clause, from states that don’t allow mmj while passing thru.

      6. Steven,
        Better yet, just legalize it! All this indirection — everything BUT legalization — is a bait-and-switch by Republicans who could legalize it right now, if they wanted to — but they don’t.

        The Democrats are ready to legalize it nationwide, right now. Why wait any longer?

        We don’t need no stinking lying cheating Republicans.

      7. Hows the jacket fit?

        Trump is supporting states rights on everything, including this bill.

      8. Trump created a commission to investigate nonexistant voter fraud that superceded states rights to handle their own elections. It was so corrupt it was liquidated for being unconstitutionally organized. But not before Kris Kobach, the guy who caged and suppressed 7.1 million Democratic votes to steal the 2016 election through the Republican crosscheck program, collected voter rolls and is now using our tax dollars to destroy the 14th amendment and attack the census while running for governor so Republicans can gerrymander our Democracy into a permanent oligarchy.
        So no, Trump does not “always” support state’s rights, and has never read the Constitution.

      9. Most marijuana arrests occur on a state level. The 10th Amendment does not legalize marijuana.

  4. This won’t make any difference. Congress consists of the most cowardly chickenshit hypocrites in our society and cannot be counted on to do their jobs and act for the good of the country.

  5. federal prohibition is illegal, unconstitutional and goes against Americans and our long history.

    Cannabis must be removed form the CSA schedule.

    These representatives are not doing their job, they need to pass a bill to remove cannabis from the CSA or remove the illegal CSA law from the books.

    1. I guess I need help understanding….I thought the same thing. Doesn’t reclassification solve a lot of these issues? Why would they not include it? I found it confusing that a website slideshow showed 32 states and the amount of money each state made from tax revenue of mostly medical marijuana (millions. Clearly, its helping many. But as anyone knows, the classification indicates no medical value and some politicians still hide behind the notion that they need more studies before they will take a stance. (but will take the tax revenue now). I dont believe it spells out what determines medical value. Is it watching 1 person with seizures controlled or a 10 year controlled environment study? Set criteria for and formalize the studies from the people currently purchasing! Its like SC has a tax stamp you must purchase to have marijuana but its very illegal for for any reason here. And, if you are caught, they include a fine you for not having a tax stamp.

  6. The big question to ask is employment and drug testing for THC. There is
    NOTHING to protect a worker for this. The labor laws are set at the federal
    level. Meaning peopling working in these states have NO protection to labor laws.

    This is a start but a HUGE loop hole. This bill needs labor law enforcement.

  7. re; the powers of the federal government are carefully enumerated and limited in the Constitution.

    unless it is within the ‘enumerated powers’,

    or the preamble;
    1. provide for the common defence,
    2. promote the general welfare,
    3. protect liberty.

    we need to challenge the UNCONSTITUTIONAL expansion of federal power.

    the founding fathers went to war,
    for way less tyranny,
    than we currently suffer under.

  8. This is ridiculous. If they really wanted to do something they would take marijuana of the controlled substances list.

    1. In a world without parasites like Insys Therapuetics peddling fentanyl and synthetic marijuana or Geo Group serving inedible rot to prisoners to make a buck and use prohibition to fill a quota, yeah, descheduling marijuana would be ideal.

      Once again, let’s not allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. I live in Texas. I should know.

      What the STATES Act will do is remove the conflict between states and the federal government to do what we choose regarding marijuana policy. Senator Cornyn, R-TX will no longer be able to hide behind the DEA or old SCOTUS rulings because the STATES Act will say “You can go your own way Texas.” I’m not saying that will stop Cornyn from pulling excuses for prohibition out of his @$$, but legally there will be no federal over-reaching legislative argument to maintain prohibition at the state level. As much as prohibition wants to prevent states without voter initiatives from legalizing, ironically, the STATES Act opens the door for legal mj in prohibited states.
      And that’s the major focus here. Some of the biggest mj legalization doners aren’t up on capitol hill pushing the STATES Act; they’re in Dallas County trying to get Republican obstructionist Pete Sessions unelected. MJ activists and citizen lobbyists have been gathering signatures for state initiatives, or as I’ve been doing, lobbying my state Democratic Chair and writing resolutions to make including voter initiatives part of the Democratic platform in Texas.
      With that said, National NORML lobby day is coming up. And Republicans know mj is a voter turn out issue. There’s no reason we can’t take a little bit of our time and call our federal Congressman to pass the STATES Act, and give the Keebler AG a reason to throw a little tantrum.

  9. Trump just said he would support this bill. Put that in your bong and smoke it! Trump is not your enemy.

    1. “Free” country,

      You are blinded by your right wing politics. Trump is the closest thing we’ve had to a dictator since the days of Tricky Dick Nixon. You are obviously one of the “good Germans” who willfully close your eyes at convenient times. A dictator is a dictator is a dictator . . .

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

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

      Give them hell!

  12. 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:

  13. 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!

  14. 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…

    1. 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.


    2. 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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