Tuesday, March 31, 2020
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A Dozen Governors Urge Congress To Pass Marijuana STATES Act

Just days after Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) unveiled the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States (STATES) Act, the governors of a dozen states have come out endorsing the legislation. The STATES Act would allow individual states the ability to enact and regulate cannabis laws free from federal overreach.

The 12 governors signed a letter addressed to the top leaders in both chambers in Congress urging for the passage of the draft legislation. According to the letter, first published by Tom Angell’s Marijuana Majority:

Our states have acted with deliberation and care to implement programs through thoughtful and comprehensive legislation and regulations. Our citizens have spoken, we are responding. We ask that Congress recognize and respect our states’ efforts by supporting and passing the STATES Act.

The bipartisan group of governors included:

  • Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (Independent)
  • California Gov. Jerry Brown (D)
  • Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D)
  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R)
  • Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R)
  • Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R)
  • New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D)
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D)
  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burghum (R)
  • Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D)
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D)
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D)

The STATES Act is a wide-ranging piece of legislation that essentially would exempt states from the provisions of the Controlled Substances Act.

“As of today, 46 states permit the use of some form of medical marijuana and 8 states have made it legal for adult-use. These programs reflect the will of the people as expressed through ballot initiatives and legislative action,” the governors wrote.

In January, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made headlines and angered many state lawmakers when he rescinded Obama-era policies designed to protect states with cannabis laws on the books. Sessions’ move “complicated the marketplace for businesses that states now deem legal,” the governors’ letter reads. “This return to one-size-fits-all federal prohibition is incongruent with reality, undermines the 46 carefully-crafted regulatory structures and impedes states’ ability to be effective laboratories of democracy.”

Cannabis advocates cheered the governors’ position. “The STATES Act is the most significant piece of marijuana-related legislation ever introduced in Congress,” Don Murphy, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Marijuana Moment. “These governors understand the difficulty of implementing medical and non-medical programs with the heavy boot of the federal government on their necks.”

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