Bipartisan bill to protect legal cannabis businesses introduced

A bipartisan bill protecting state laws regulating marijuana use from the federal government was reintroduced on Thursday in the House and Senate.

The legislation, which allows states to determine their own cannabis policies, was offered by Sens. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way The Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Nevada 8 people arrested outside Trump rally in Colorado for 'obstructed traffic' MORE (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Democratic nominee won't be democratically chosen Surging Sanders looks for decisive win in Nevada Bloomberg to do interview with Al Sharpton MORE (D-Mass.) in the Senate and Reps. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerClinton advises checking your voter registration during Trump's State of the Union Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley to boycott State of the Union 10 Democrats to boycott Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Ore.) and David JoyceDavid Patrick JoyceOvernight Health Care: Officials confirm 34 total coronavirus cases in US | ObamaCare favorability hits highest level in poll | McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Sanders, Dems zero in on Super Tuesday Overnight Health Care: Americans with coronavirus reportedly flown home over CDC advice | Dem fight over 'Medicare for All' heats up at debate | House to vote next week on flavored vaping ban MORE (R-Ohio) in the House.

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, also introduced in the last Congress, would exempt individuals and businesses that are working in compliance with a state’s cannabis laws from prosecution under federal law, which still prohibits the selling and use of marijuana.

It would amend the Controlled Substances Act so any business operating in compliance with state cannabis laws is not in violation of the law.

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Last Congress, the bill was intended to counter the Trump administration's tougher stance on marijuana use as former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOn the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Trump looms as flashpoint in Alabama Senate battle Trump tweets test Attorney General Barr MORE moved to crack down on state efforts to allow recreational use of marijuana.

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), a cannabis trade association, applauded the bill on Thursday.

“Regulating cannabis is successfully replacing illicit markets with licensed businesses in a growing number of states across the country. This legislation will simply allow those state regulatory programs to succeed without federal interference,” Aaron Smith, executive director of NCIA, said in a press release.

The Cannabis Trade Federation (CTF), a nonprofit to educate and advocate for cannabis in public policy, hired 15 lobbyists to push the STATES Act in January.

“The STATES Act, it’s a bipartisan bill that the president has said he will sign into law," CTF CEO Neal Levine told The Hill. "So it’s the one piece of legislation from our intel that we think we have a legitimate chance to pass into law that would fundamentally address all of the major issues that the cannabis industry faces today.”

Recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia, while the use of medical marijuana legal is legal in 33 states. 

Last week, the House Financial Services Committee approved bipartisan legislation that would allow banks to work with marijuana businesses that are legal under state law.