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 Gardner The 13 Republicans needed to pass gun-control legislation Bolton returns to political group after exiting administration The Hill's Morning Report — Trump's hurricane forecast controversy won't go away MORE (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden lead shrinks, Sanders and Warren close gap: poll Defense bill talks set to start amid wall fight Biden allies: Warren is taking a bite out of his electability argument MORE (D-Mass.) in the Senate and Reps. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerCoalition of farmers and ranchers endorses Green New Deal Marijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis Overnight Energy: Democrats call for Ross to resign over report he threatened NOAA officials | Commerce denies report | Documents detail plan to decentralize BLM | Lawmakers demand answers on bee-killing pesticide MORE (D-Ore.) and David JoyceDavid Patrick JoyceMarijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump issues Taliban warning at Sept. 11 memorial Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea 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 SessionsPelosi: Lewandowski should have been held in contempt 'right then and there' Democrats bicker over strategy on impeachment McCabe says he would 'absolutely not' cut a deal with prosecutors 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.