Elizabeth Warren, Cory Gardner Introduce The STATES Act

Capitol Senate mg magazine
Capitol Senate mg magazine

Washington D.C.–U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and U.S. Representatives David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) today introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (STATES Act), which would “ensure that each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders.”

“In 2012, Coloradans legalized marijuana at the ballot box and the state created an apparatus to regulate the legal marijuana industry. But because of the one-size-fits-all federal prohibition, state decisions like this put Colorado and other states at odds with the federal government,” Senator Gardner said in a statement.


“The federal government is closing its eyes and plugging its ears while 46 states have acted. The bipartisan STATES Act fixes this problem once and for all by taking a states’ rights approach to the legal marijuana question. The bipartisan, commonsense bill ensures the federal government will respect the will of the voters–whether that is legalization or prohibition–and not interfere in any states’ legal marijuana industry,” he added.

The bipartisan legislation would:

  • Amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) so that–as long as states and tribes comply with a few basic protections­–its provisions no longer apply to any person acting in compliance with State or tribal laws relating to marijuana activities.
  • Clearly state that compliant transactions are not trafficking and do not result in proceeds of an unlawful transaction.
  • Remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances under the CSA.
  • The following federal criminal provisions under the CSA continue to apply: Prohibits endangering human life while manufacturing marijuana. Prohibits employment of persons under age 18 in drug operations.
  • Prohibit the distribution of marijuana at transportation safety facilities such as rest areas and truck stops.
  • Prohibit the distribution or sale of marijuana to persons under the age of 21 other than for medical purposes.

“Outdated federal marijuana laws have perpetuated our broken criminal justice system, created barriers to research, and hindered economic development,” said Senator Warren. “States like Massachusetts have put a lot of work into implementing common sense marijuana regulations–and they have the right to enforce their own marijuana policies. The federal government needs to get out of the business of outlawing marijuana.”

The action comes after earlier this week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced that a resolution to recognize Hemp History Week nationally, from June 4-10. McConnell is an industrial hemp advocate and has championed drug reform in relation to industrial farming.

These latest developments also follow a recent internal directive issued by the Drug Enforcement Administration that said specific parts of cannabis plants were not prohibited for use or sale, including sterile seeds and mature plant stems. These raw materials could potentially be used in the manufacture of CBD oil and other derivatives, while hemp seeds can also are used as a nutritional food source.

The STATES Act has been endorsed by a long list of advocacy organizations, including 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, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Massachusetts Bankers Association, the Maine Credit Union League, 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.

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