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Here’s some good news for potheads coming from Capitol Hill: a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced a new bill on Thursday that would change federal laws prohibiting marijuana. This legislation, as Rolling Stone reports, would give states the right to decide their own marijuana policies.
If passed, the bill dubbed the STATES, or Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States, Act could prove to be troubling for Donald Trump’s relationship with Jeff Sessions, who is vehemently opposed to marijuana possession and previously declared a war on legalized weed. It would not only repeal federal prohibitions, but bolster protections for states that have chosen to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use by removing it from the federal list of illegal drugs. Don Murphy, the conservative outreach director of the Marijuana Policy Project, lauded the bill, calling it the "most significant piece of marijuana-related legislation ever introduced in Congress."
The law would help cannabis companies that currently function as all-cash businesses and struggle to work with banks due to federal laws. Under the new bill, banks would have the freedom to issue loans or give investments without fear of federal prosecution. "Our founders intended the states to be laboratories of democracy and many states right now find themselves deep in the heart of that laboratory, but its created significant conflict between state law [and] federal law," Republican senator Cory Gardner said, as he introduced the bill alongside Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.
But even with bipartisan support, the bill still faces opposition. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Rolling Stone he still disagrees with attempts to legalize marijuana. And it’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions who posses the biggest threat to the bill. "I think it's the attorney general who gave us the impetus to bring our colleagues together to change the law in this area," Warren told Rolling Stone. "It's gotten a lot of people engaged in a way that they weren't six months ago. Thanks to the attorney general, more people feel the urgency of the moment in changing federal law on marijuana."
Trump on the other hand has previously expressed his support of states decided whether or not to legalize marijuana. "I've talked to the president about this bill. I think in the previous conversation we had he talked about the need to solve this conflict between state and federal law," Gardner says. "He talked about his support for a state's rights approach during the campaign. He's talked about that in the days since with me."
That doesn’t mean everyone will be able to start lighting up just yet. It’s still up to the states to legalize bud, and recreational weed can only be sold to people 21 and over. "This is not a bill that forces legalization on any state that doesn't want it," Warren said. "So part of the pitch here for getting a vote through Congress is to say 'This is for the states who want to act.'"