The STATES Act leans upon the idea of states not having to fear interference from the federal government. When it comes to states’ choices to legalize or decriminalize marijuana, the STATES Act has become a staple of political debate.
The following is a re-post of an article written by Sarah Rense of Esquire Magazine
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The folks we sent to Capitol Hill to represent our best interests are actually working on something good—and they’re working on it together. On Wednesday, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle made a major step for marijuana reform, introducing legislation in the House and the Senate to protect people in states where weed is legal from federal intervention. Marijuana just isn’t the boogeyman it used to be.
The STATES Act (or the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act, yikes) amends the current Controlled Substances Act to prohibit federal interference in states that have their own legal weed laws on the books. Right now, 10 states plus Washington, D.C. have chosen to legalize recreational weed, while 33 more states allow medical marijuana use. That’s a staggering majority of states with green laws and green regulations in place. Its sponsors hope to get it through Congress before the next election—and the sooner, the better.
The STATES Act was introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (a Republican from Colorado) and Elizabeth Warren (a Democrat from Massachusetts) in the Senate. In the House, 13 Congresspeople from each party cosponsored it, led by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (a Democrat from Oregon) and David Joyce (a Republican from Ohio), Rolling Stone reports. You can tell a lot from their home states: Colorado was the first state to ever legalize weed, followed by Oregon, and last year, Massachusetts. Ohio, meanwhile, is building a competitive medical marijuana industry.
There are a bundle of reasons to get this legislation passed, not the least of which is that 62 percent of Americans think marijuana should be legalized. Gardner sited the Colorado cannabis industry and the issues it runs into with banking and federal law enforcement: “People of good faith—both in the industry and outside of it—are at risk of being a federal felon despite complying with state law. And the cash on the streets is a big public safety and law enforcement concern,” he said in a tweet. Blumenauer argued, “Our outdated cannabis laws have ruined lives, devastated communities, and wasted resources.” Democrat rep Barbara Lee, another supporter, tweeted, “Far too many people still face federal prosecution and roadblocks in their daily lives—especially people of color.”
Warren, who is a presidential candidate hopeful, said in a statement, “Our federal marijuana laws are outdated and pose a threat to our public health and safety. Marijuana should be legalized, and we must reverse the harm of these failed policies by wiping clean the records of those unjustly jailed for minor marijuana crimes.”
Unfortunately, the STATES Act won’t expunge marijuana-related records. It’s very similar to a version of the bill introduced in the last Congress. But now, those in favor of marijuana reform can use the Democratic majority in the House and the bipartisan support in the Senate to shepherd it through, or so they think. President Trump even “really” supported the earlier version.
Alongside the STATES Act in Congress are other progressive marijuana laws that address banking and studying marijuana for veterans. Those are “incremental steps that are going to make a huge difference,” Blumenauer told Marijuana Moment, but the STATES Act is “a landmark.” That’s a hell of a lot of momentum.
But the STATES Act looks tame compared to what New Jersey senator Cory Booker wants to accomplish in D.C. His Marijuana Justice Act calls for the full federal legalization of weed, as well as clean records for people who committed marijuana-related offenses, and reinvestment into the minority communities targeted the most by the War on Drugs. He netted some of the biggest Democratic names to back it, but there’s next to no chance he’ll get it past the Republican-controlled Senate.
Whether or not Congress can get its shit together to make big marijuana moves, the cannabis movement is churning through the states. New Jersey came maddeningly close to legalizing weed last month, and New York is looking at its own legalization effort this year. Georgia just voted to allow the sale of medical marijuana, which ought to help a lot of Georgians out. Fancy cannabis dispensaries are popping up in Vegas, NYC, and other big cities. Even the guy who invented Blue Moon beer saw his first batch of THC beer sell out in Colorado in under four hours. This is going to be a big year for weed. It’s what the people want.
This article was first published on https://www.cannabisimp.com.