Elizabeth Warren Is Unveiling a States’ Rights Marijuana Bill
She's teaming up with Republican Cory Gardner.
Elizabeth Warren is formally launching a bid to protect states like Massachusetts that have legalized marijuana, teaming up with Republican Cory Gardner, of Colorado.
“I am proud to be in this fight,” she said in a press conference Thursday to announce “bipartisan legislation that would let states, territories, and tribes decide for themselves how to regulate marijuana without federal interference.”
The push comes amid the ever-present threat of a crackdown from the federal government here and elsewhere because the drug remains illegal at the federal level. There had been an air of safety for marijuana dispensaries under the Obama administration, thanks to a memo that dissuaded the federal government from prosecuting business owners and others who were following drug laws at the state level. That all changed under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who in January announced a policy shift that would free up local Tump-appointed U.S. Attorneys to prosecute drug offenses regardless of what the local law says.
In response, Warren and others in Washington have been rallying support for a legislative fix that would put this tension between federal and state law issue to rest. They’re calling it the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.
“Our federal marijuana laws are outdated and they’re broken. The law on the books makes it harder for veterans to get treatment for chronic pain, they keep children with rare diseases in agony, and they make life miserable for individuals struggling with terminal diseases,” Warren said, adding, “The way I see it we have two choices: We can either sit on the sidelines and we can bemoan the old fashioned policies or we can roll up our sleeves, get to work, and propose a solution.”
She emphasized that the law would not force any states to legalize marijuana. It would, however, establish some federal guidelines in legal pot states, including a minimum age for sales of the drug, safety standards, and a restriction on sales at rest stops, she said.
It would also allow pot businesses to access federally insured banks. Many in the marijuana industry have been locked out of the system, forcing them to deal in large and potentially unsafe amounts of cash.
It’s unclear how the bill will fare in the Senate, but Warren said there was “enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle to get this done.” President Trump has reportedly told Gardner he would support such a bill.
In Massachusetts, there are already two-dozen medical dispensaries, and the state’s first stores selling recreational weed are slated to open as early as July 1.
Warren herself was wishy-washy on marijuana legalization in 2016. She said she was “open” to the idea but did not formally endorse Question 4, the ultimately successful ballot initiative that legalized the drug in Massachusetts. Gardner did not support legalization in his state.