A GOP congressman says he will soon be reintroducing bipartisan legislation to protect state marijuana programs from federal interference—though his office tells Marijuana Moment that it will be somewhat “different” from versions of the legislation he’s filed in past sessions.
Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), co-chair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, will be refiling the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act—a bill that would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to undo federal criminalization of people acting in compliance with state cannabis programs.
He told Forbes in an interview released on Monday that the purpose of the measure is to promote states’ rights and send a message to the federal government that it “should get the hell out of their way.” The bill is still being finalized, however, and it’s not immediately clear when Joyce plans to formally reintroduce it.
“I can confirm that we are working on something along the lines” of the STATES Act, “but different from what we introduced in the past,” a spokesperson for the congressman told Marijuana Moment on Monday.
Joyce has also sponsored legislation to remove cannabis from the CSA altogether, effectively legalizing it at the federal level, and he’s also championed bipartisan measures to prepare the government for legalization and to incentive state-level expungements of prior cannabis convictions.
It’s possible that the revised state protections bill could be expanded to incorporate such reforms, but his office did not specify how the proposal is being changed since it was first introduced in 2019.
“Every state has their own individual specifics” in their marijuana laws, the congressman said. “But they all share a basic regulatory framework that’s meant to prevent youth use, mitigate the illicit market and ensure that adults who do choose to use cannabis are able to access safe and uncontaminated products.”
After he files the revised STATES Act, Joyce said that his next steps are to build a strong bipartisan coalition so that he can demonstrate to leadership that he has the votes for passage and “hopefully get it to the floor.”
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In 2018, the sponsors of the Senate companion version of the bill, former Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), attempted to attach the cannabis legislation as an amendment to a broader criminal justice reform measure, but that didn’t happen.
Meanwhile, Joyce said he’s also optimistic about the prospect of advancing another bipartisan marijuana bill that he’s sponsoring this session: the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act to protect financial institutions from being penalized by federal regulators simply because they work with state-legal cannabis businesses.
The House has passed that bill several times over recent years, but it’s being led by the Senate this year. Senate leadership aimed to move it through committee during the summer session, but partisan disagreements over one section have delayed action. Key bipartisan lawmakers have since expressed optimism about advancing the legislation this fall, but insiders’ predictions about a Senate Banking Committee markup next week were inaccurate, a committee spokesperson told Marijuana Moment on Monday.
As congressional lawmakers continue to work to advance incremental cannabis policy reforms this session, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is now carrying out a review into marijuana scheduling after the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended moving cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.