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The STATES Act Reintroduced: Bipartisan Measure Limits Federal Government’s Ability To Interfere With State-Sanctioned Cannabis Business, Policies

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Washington, DC: Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), along with Representatives David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), have reintroduced The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2019. This Act amends the Controlled Substances Act to reduce the number of instances in which federal law enforcement agencies could carry out legal actions against state-licensed cannabis businesses or other related enterprises.

“The majority of states now regulate either the medical use or the adult use of cannabis. It is time for the federal government to cease standing in the way of these voter-backed regulatory policies being implemented throughout the country,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “Ultimately, however, we must remove cannabis from the federal Controlled Substances Act entirely in order to allow those in legal states to ultimately be free from undue federal discrimination and the fear of federal prosecution.”

Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said: “Forty-seven states have legalized some form of cannabis and the majority of Americans support its legalization. Our outdated laws have ruined lives, devastated communities, and wasted resources for critical medical treatment and research.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 are and fix a badly broken system.”

Said Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH): “The current federal policy interferes with the ability of states to implement their own cannabis laws, and the resulting system has stifled important medical research, hurt legitimate businesses and diverted critical law enforcement resources needed elsewhere. It’s past time for Congress to clarify cannabis policy on the federal level and ensure states are free to make their own decisions in the best interest of their constituents. The STATES Act does just that by respecting the will of the states that have legalized cannabis in some form and allowing them to implement their own policies without fear of repercussion from the federal government.”

The STATES Act joins multiple bills have been filed to amend the Controlled Substances Act to restrict federal enforcement actions against state-legal cannabis businesses.

They include:

HR 493: The Sensible Enforcement Of Cannabis Act, introduced by Congressman Lou Correa.

HR 1455: The REFER Act (Restraining Excessive Federal Enforcement & Regulations of Cannabis Act), introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee.

HR 2012: The Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act, introduced by Congresswoman Diane DeGette.

Supporters of cannabis reform can contact their lawmakers regarding these bills via the NORML Action Center HERE.

General information regarding cannabis reform:

According to the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for cannabis-related violations in 2017. That total is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrests for the commission of violent crimes (518,617) in 2017. Of those arrested for cannabis crimes, just under 91 percent (599,000) were arrested for cannabis possession offenses, a slight increase over last year’s annual totals. Total cannabis arrests in 2017 increased for the second straight year, after having fallen for nearly a decade.

Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional fifteen states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.

Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of cannabis,” according to 2018 national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.

Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.

To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.

Specifically, a 2019 report estimates that over 211,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.

NORML’s mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of cannabis by adults, and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high-quality cannabis that is safe, convenient, and affordable.

Find out more at www.norml.org and read our factsheets on the most common misconceptions and myths regarding reform efforts around the country at www.norml.org/marijuana/fact-sheets

NORML and the NORML Foundation
1100 H Street NW, Suite 830, Washington DC, 20005
(202) 483-5500 • norml@norml.org

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