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 GardnerTariffs threaten 1.5M jobs: Study This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Progressive veterans group launches campaign labeling Trump as a 'national security threat' MORE (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE (D-Mass.) in the Senate and Reps. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerCongress should lift the ban on medical cannabis access for military veterans Hillicon Valley: Google buying Fitbit for .1B | US launches national security review of TikTok | Twitter shakes up fight over political ads | Dems push committee on 'revenge porn' law Progressives urge end to mass phone data collection program MORE (D-Ore.) and David JoyceDavid Patrick JoyceKeeping your national parks accessible even during a government shutdown Marijuana industry donations to lawmakers surge in 2019: analysis The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump issues Taliban warning at Sept. 11 memorial 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 SessionsSanford: 'It carries real weight' to speak against Trump 'while in office' Medill dean 'deeply troubled by the vicious bullying and badgering' of student journalists Trump has considered firing official who reported whistleblower complaint to Congress: report 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.