Ohio Republican Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH-14), along with the entire Congressional Cannabis Caucus, introduced a bill Wednesday that seeks to protect state marijuana policies by strengthening states’ rights.
The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act, the “STATES Act” for short, would function to amend existing laws, specifically the Controlled Substances Act. It would, essentially, give states that have set their own policies on marijuana regulation the right to have those laws take precedence over the existing federal laws.
Even as various forms of marijuana use become legal across the country, it remains illegal at the federal level. As previously reported:
The 2018 Farm Bill, passed with bipartisan support, legalized the production of industrial hemp. This is the primary source of CBD Oil. Hemp producers immediately jumped into producing the substance. Though products containing THC cannot cross state lines, THC products derived from hemp face no similar restriction. Supporting the bill, the Drug Enforcement Agency DEA removed CBD as a Schedule 1 narcotic. As a result, it is no longer considered among the most dangerous of drug products. While CBD seemed poised for national expansion, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still has the authority to regulate the sale of CBD and have aggressively stepped up efforts to clamp down on its sale. In late 2016, the situation became so confusing that the Ohio Department of Health had to release a statement clarifying the illegal status CBD oil.
This law would simplify the process by permitting states the ability to disregard many of the federal laws, as long as they have passed their own set of regulations. This bill also carries a few caveats.
The bill would affirm that certain regulations remain in place. No state, for instance, would be permitted to distribute marijuana to individuals under the age of 21. People under the age of 18 will not be permitted to work in any aspect of the marijuana industry. Marijuana would remain illegal in certain areas where marijuana use is a serious safety concern.
One of the most notable aspects of the bill would be a major relief to every marijuana dispensary in the country. Because marijuana is still illegal, many banks will not process or service accounts affiliated with the creation or distribution of marijuana. If they do, the federal government could potentially charge them with drug trafficking or money laundering. This law would ensure that banks servicing accounts for legal marijuana businesses will be protected from prosecution.
The bill’s co-sponsors include a bipartisan list of legislators, including U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO). In a statement from the Cannabis Caucus, U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR-03) stated:
Our outdated laws have ruined lives, devastated communities, and wasted resources for critical medical treatment and research. The STATES Act is the next logical step in a comprehensive blueprint for more rational federal cannabis policy. It’s time for Congress to catch up with the rest of America and fix a badly broken system.”
H.R. 2071, formally introduced Wednesday, has not been acted on yet, but should be referred to committee sometime in the coming week.
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Andrew Shirley is a reporter at Battleground State News and The Ohio Star. Send tips to [email protected].