SOURCE – In a significant move towards addressing the complex landscape of cannabis policies in the United States, a group of bipartisan representatives introduced a modernized version of the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.

This legislation, led by Representatives Dave Joyce (OH-14), Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05), Brian Mast (FL-21), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), and Troy Carter (LA-02), aims to ensure that each state, as well as Washington D.C., U.S. territories, and federally recognized tribal nations, has the autonomy to determine the best approach to cannabis within its borders​​.

The need for such legislation arises from the fact that 48 states, alongside Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and several tribal nations, have laws permitting cannabis to some degree. However, federal guidance often contradicts these state laws and lacks proper regulatory support.

Congressman Joyce, a Co-Chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, emphasized that the current federal approach infringes on states’ rights to implement their own cannabis laws.

This has consequences such as stifling critical medical research, impacting legitimate businesses, and diverting law enforcement resources​​.

The STATES Act’s proponents argue that the Constitution, which does not explicitly mention cannabis, clearly states that all powers not given to the federal government remain with the states.

Therefore, they advocate for a policy where each state can set its own cannabis policy, best suited for its constituents. This approach is seen as a means to create a safe and professional environment for one of the fastest-growing industries in the country​​.

The legislation proposes several key changes:

  • Amending the Controlled Substances Act to no longer classify marijuana as a substance covered by the Act, as long as it’s manufactured, produced, possessed, distributed, dispensed, administered, or delivered in compliance with state and tribal law.
  • Continuing federal criminal provisions under the Controlled Substances Act, including prohibiting the distribution of marijuana to anyone under 21 and the employment of persons under 18 in marijuana operations.
  • Regulating marijuana products through the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and the Food and Drug Administration, ensuring that these products meet standards for contaminant testing, manufacturing, and marketing.
  • Addressing financial issues caused by federal prohibition, stating that compliant transactions are not trafficking and are exempt from certain sections of the Internal Revenue code related to illegal drugs​​.

Supporters of the STATES Act point out that the majority of states have moved to legalize cannabis in some form, and there is a growing public support for policy reform. They believe this legislation aligns federal policy with state laws and public opinion, respecting states’ autonomy on marijuana regulation. The STATES Act was first introduced in 2018 in the House by Representatives Joyce and Blumenauer and in the Senate by Senators Gardner and Warren​​​​.

The introduction of the STATES Act marks a significant step in the ongoing debate over cannabis legalization and regulation in the United States, reflecting a shift towards respecting state autonomy and addressing the inconsistencies between state and federal laws.