Article by Janet Burns, Forbes
After many months of threatening stances from U.S. Attorney General and noted weed-hater Jeff Sessions, a group of bipartisan lawmakers have introduced a bill aimed to guard states’ legal cannabis industries for good.
On Thursday, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced the introduction of the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act, which seeks to protect states that legalize marijuana from federal interference. Representatives David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) also announced the introduction of a companion bill in the House today.
According to the bill’s cosponsors, the STATES Act would protect states from federal interference by creating an exemption to the U.S. Controlled Substances Act, which prohibits marijuana alongside dangerous drugs like heroin (and some basically safe ones like LSD), for those states that have enacted legal cannabis laws, and would remove industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act entirely.
Supporters say the bill would also allow cannabis businesses to take advantage of safe banking practices enjoyed by most other legal businesses, and which cannabis’ federally illegal status has effectively prevented to date.
The STATES Act would also create legislative “guardrails” to maintain certain federal limits for states’ budding cannabis industries; they include a minimum age of 18 to work in marijuana, a minimum age of 21 to purchase it unless prescribed by a doctor, and room to define and prohibit “unsafe production conditions.”