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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 GardnerThe Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Democrats seek to block appeal of court ruling ousting Pendley, BLM land plans Senate is leaning to the Democrats, big time, with a wave MORE (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenFinal debate: War Admiral vs. Seabiscuit Biden defends his health plan from Trump attacks Progressives blast Biden plan to form panel on Supreme Court reform MORE (D-Mass.) in the Senate and Reps. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerRestaurants brace for long COVID-19 winter Ahead of a coronavirus vaccine, Mexico's drug pricing to have far-reaching impacts on Americans Trump threatens to double down on Portland in other major cities MORE (D-Ore.) and David JoyceDavid Patrick JoyceCandymakers meet virtually with lawmakers for annual fly-in, discuss Halloween safety Stand-alone bill to provide relief for airlines blocked on House floor Republicans shrug off Kasich's Democratic convention speech 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 SessionsBiden fact checks Trump on 545 families separated at border, calls policy 'criminal' Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House 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.