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Gardner and Warren Take the Offensive in Battle for Marijuana Law Reform


Earlier this month we told you some about the STATES Act of 2018 – an effort to remove federal interference in the marijuana policy of individual states. Sponsored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), the STATES Act would get the federal government out of state marijuana laws, as well as legalize industrial hemp and allow marijuana businesses much-needed access to the banking industry.

As is the case with most legislation – especially in this era of social media and massive digital reach – a lot of the battle over the STATES Act is taking place online and in the media. Toward that end, Gardner and Warren were recently on WBUR in Massachusetts talking about their legislation and why it’s needed at this point in time.

“This is a bill that says, when the states have passed different laws about marijuana — maybe it’s about medical marijuana, recreational marijuana — it will conflict with the federal law on marijuana, because nothing has been changed,” Warren said. “And this bill says the federal government will treat the state’s law as the law of that state. In other words, no interference.”

“…if you look at the Constitution, whether it’s the 10th Amendment, or the Interstate Commerce Clause, the Interstate Commerce Clause talks about goods of an intrastate nature being regulated by the state,” Gardner said, explaining why he thinks his bill will be more successful than straight out federal legalization. “And so this is something that I think our founders said, ‘There may be disagreement. So let’s let states do what they want to.’ [This bill is] also a way for us to politically thread a needle with a couple of tricky issues that we haven’t been able to find so far.

“No. 1, there are states that aren’t going to want to do this. Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, I think they’ve even sued Colorado over some of the marijuana industry’s impact that they have felt that they could see in their states.”

Besides the usual methods of reaching your Senator and voicing your opinion on the STATES Act (letter, email, tweet), advocacy groups like NORML and Marijuana Policy Project have simplified the process of getting your opinion to the people who need to hear it.

Getting the federal government to back off and let states decide their own marijuana policy is as good as the cannabis community can hope for in the current political climate. And without the removal of federal interference, there is only so far the legalization movement can advance.