Will the STATES Act End Nationwide Cannabis Prohibition in America?
The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act (also known as Senate Bill 3032) was introduced on June 7 by a bipartisan group of senators and representatives including Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
The bill would allow each individual state to set its own cannabis regulations. Furthermore, it amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude cannabis activity conducted in accordance with state laws. The bill would also legalize industrial hemp and protects banks that do business with cannabis firms.
Quite simply, any person in full compliance with applicable state laws and regulations relating to cannabis, would be protected from the threat of federal prosecution under the STATES Act.
Despite the support from President Trump for Senate Bill 3032, key congressional leaders have still not backed it – at least publicly. Even Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who supports decriminalization of cannabis, has not yet backed the bill, according to High Times.
Schumer’s support would go a long way so please tweet him stating your support for this bill (His Twitter bio is linked above where his name is first mentioned in the previous paragraph).
Additionally, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would have to approve the bill before it could make it to a vote by the full Senate.
“Sen. Grassley is not planning or considering hearings on any marijuana-related legislation at the moment,” the aide told High Times.
Mason Tvert, a spokesperson for Washington D.C. advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project, told High Times that despite the lack of progress, the STATES Act still has a chance of success.
“Support for ending marijuana prohibition is stronger than ever and growing fast among members of Congress,” Tvert said. “While the Judiciary Committee chairs’ statements are disappointing, it’s promising to see members like Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who fought reform efforts for years, come out in support.”
“We expect the debate will continue and support will expand further on both sides of the aisle over the next six months. Given the president’s comments and the trajectory of public and congressional support, it’s certainly possible that we’ll see some movement this year. It’s also worth noting that the balance of power could shift after the midterm elections, in which case there could be new committee leadership.”
The bill’s legal foundation rests on the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
An official description of the measure states, “strengthening the Tenth Amendment …ensures that each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders.”
But the STATES Act does have support from many top organizations including but not limited to: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Safe Access, Americans for Tax Reform, the Brennan Center for Justice, Campaign for Liberty, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cooperative Credit Union Association, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Institute for Liberty, Latino Justice, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Massachusetts Bankers Association, the Maine Credit Union, the Mountain West Credit Union Association, the National Cannabis Bar Association, the National Cannabis Industry Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the New Federalism Fund, NORML, the Northwest Credit Union Association, R Street, and the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.
Support from the public is what is needed to now give this bill some legs. Contact your local Congress representative and contact your State Senator. Many polls already show the public is heavily in favor of legalization. But personal messages direct from their constituents always gets their attention, especially when they come in the tens of thousands.
So the question remains: Will the States ACT pass?
The answer is still a great mystery. What we know is that for the first time since cannabis was made illegal in 1937, a sitting President has thrown his support towards some form of cannabis reform. That in itself is a major milestone.
Ultimately, The STATES Act is a bipartisan bill that does not outright legalize cannabis or re-schedule it or even decriminalize it. This will give the bill a fighting chance. But though it seems the stars are beginning to align towards federal legalization – we are not quite there yet. But simply allowing the status-quo of letting states decide may be an easier way to go about beginning the process towards federal legalization – one day.
We expect that America will watch closely at how their neighbor to the north, Canada, does in their upcoming federal legalization. Hopefully, we will learn from their mistakes as well as monitoring any successes.
Having said all of that, the STATES Act currently only has nine co-sponsors, according to Forbes. Previous cannabis proposals have earned in upwards of 30 co-sponsors, and have yet to receive any consideration. That can’t be a good sign.
Additionally, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is largely responsible for which bills get picked up for discussion in the Senate, says he is nowhere near ready to see marijuana legalization take hold at the national level. Tweet him and let him know it is time to reconsider.
The bottom line is with little support in both Congress and the Senate, chances are the bill never even gets discussed, much less passed. But with the President of the United States supporting it, we would dare say that anything is possible. Legalization of cannabis seems just as likely as nuclear holocaust.