In a move in Congress that goes a long way towards ending prohibition and that excludes legally, state-regulated marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Senators Warren (D-MA) and Gardner (R-CO) followed up on Gardner’s agreement with President Trump by introducing the bipartisan Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act bill today.
The bill reflects the federalist state’s right viewpoint as exhibited in the US Constitution’s 10th Amendment and protects both cannabis and industrial hemp businesses and consumers in regulated states while removing the threat to US banks of being prosecuted for working with these businesses. The bill does not mention the barrier that IRS 280E poses to cannabis businesses nationwide but since it removes state regulated businesses from CSA ramifications, it removes that obstacle as well.
In the press conference when the bill was announced Gardner said, “There are several things we need to achieve. Number one, this is a chance for us to express that federalism works — to take an idea that states have led with and find a solution that allows them to continue to lead. Number two, this is public hypocrisy. The City of Denver, the State of Colorado can collect taxes, Massachusetts businesses can collect taxes, they can take it to the bank. But if you’re in the [marijuana] business, if you work for the business, you can’t get a bank loan or set up a bank account because of the concern over the conflict of the state and federal law. We need to fix this public hypocrisy. The third thing: This is a public-safety issue. Billions of dollars in cash are floating around Colorado and other states that have a legalized industry, and they can’t bank it. They are forced to figure out how, where and what to do with hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars in cash.”
Warren not only stressed the common sense of the bill regarding removing the hypocrisy and out-dated policy that creates state and federal conflict, but eloquently addressed the need to right the wrongs done on minority communities by the current CSA.
The bill will need a similar one presented in the House of Representatives and ultimately a vote on any amended bills as well as Trump’s signature to become law.
Below is a summary provided The STATES Act, you can click here to read the bill as submitted.
Introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Cory Gardner
- Today, 46 states have laws permitting or decriminalizing marijuana or marijuana-based products. Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and a number of tribes have similar laws.
- As states began developing their own approaches to marijuana enforcement the Department of Justice issued guidance to support these state actions and focus law enforcement resources.
- However, this guidance was withdrawn in 2018, causing legal uncertainty that severely limits these state laboratories of democracy, creates public health and safety issues, and undermines the state regulatory regimes.
- As more states, territories, and tribes thoughtfully consider updates to marijuana regulations,often through voter-initiated referendums, it is critical that Congress take immediate steps to safeguard their right to do so.
- The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act ensures that each State has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders. The bill also extends these protections to Washington D.C, U.S. territories, and federally recognized tribes, and contains common-sense guard rails to ensure that states, territories, and tribes regulating marijuana do so in a manner that is safe and respectful of the impacts on their neighbors.
WHAT THE BILL DOES:
- Amends the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. § 801 et seq.) (CSA) so that — as long as states and tribes comply with a few basic protections — its provisions no longer apply to any person acting in compliance with State or tribal laws relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marijuana.
- Amends the definition of “marihuana” under the CSA (21 U.S.C. § 802(16)) to exclude industrial hemp, as defined in section 7606(b) of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (7 U.S.C. § 5940(b)).
- The bill does not alter CSA Section 417 (prohibition on endangering human life while manufacturing a controlled substance) and maintains the prohibition on employing persons under age 18 in marijuana operations, two federal requirements with which states, territories, and tribes must continue to comply.
- The bill prohibits the distribution of marijuana at transportation safety facilities such as rest areas and truck stops (Section 409).
- The bill does not allow for the distribution or sale of marijuana to persons under the age of 21 (Section 418) other than for medical purposes.
- To address financial issues caused by federal prohibition, the bill clearly states that compliant transactions are not trafficking and do not result in proceeds of an unlawful transaction.