Elizabeth Warren, (Democrat-Massachusetts) , and Cory Gardner, (Republican – Colorado ), are rarely on the same side of a hot-button issue. But the two senators shared a podium Thursday to launch new legislation on an issue they can agree on: keeping federal hands off state-legalized marijuana.
The two senators on Thursday unveiled bipartisan legislation that would protect marijuana users and businesses from federal interference in states that have legalized the drug. The legislation would allow states to pursue liberalized marijuana policies as they see fit, they said.
Warren said current federal prohibition on marijuana impedes effective marijuana treatments for medical patients and unjustly targets minority communities. Gardner described marijuana legalization as a matter of states’ rights.
Nine states have legalized recreational marijuana and another 20 have legalized the drug for medical use. But federal law still prohibits it.
“These are archaic laws that don’t just hurt individual people,” Warren said at the Thursday morning press conference. “They also prevent businesses who are in the marijuana business from getting access to banking services. That forces a multibillion dollar industry to operate all in cash. That’s bad for business and bad for safety.”
The bill, nicknamed the STATES Act, would require states, territories and tribes to abide by certain restrictions to qualify for protection from federal law enforcement, including a minimum age for marijuana sales and restrictions on selling the drug at highway rest stops.
Gardner and Warren emphasized that their bill does not legalize marijuana on the federal level and does not impose legalization on states that don’t want it. But the bill would legalize the drug in states that choose to do so.
The senators say they have bipartisan support in the Senate and the House of Representatives for the bill. Warren quipped they were “lining them up like Noah’s Ark” — one Democrat for each Republican.
“The support of this bill is across a very wide spectrum of political ideologies,” Gardner said. “You’re going to see that in the outside groups and organizations that support this legislation, you’ll see that in governors across the country and you’re also going to see that in terms of the members of the House.”
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Source : RollCall
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