A bipartisan group of senators and representatives introduced a historic bill this morning that could change the cannabis legalization landscape across the United States.
In a move that’s been anticipated for weeks, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Rep. David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States (STATES) Act this morning on Capitol Hill. The measure would exempt state-legal marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, allowing every state to legalize and regulate cannabis (or keep it illegal) as they see fit.
In a joint press conference, Sen. Gardner emphasized that the act would not mandate full nationwide legalization. Rather, it would allow each state to legalize or prohibit cannabis on its own. If a state chooses to do nothing, cannabis would remain federally illegal within that state’s borders. But in states that legalize, federal prohibitions would not apply.
“This is an approach that allows the states to move forward,” said Gardner. “If a state like Oklahoma or Kansas or Nebraska chooses for themselves not to do this, they do not have to. The federal law remains the same. Nothing changes for them. But for those states like Massachusetts and Colorado, this is the opportunity our founders intended: allow states to be those laboratories of democracy.”