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Police Groups Back Bill To End Federal Marijuana Prohibition In Legal States And Allow Interstate Commerce

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Two major law enforcement organizations have endorsed a bipartisan bill to end federal marijuana enforcement in legal states, a cannabis group whose membership includes large tobacco and alcohol companies announced.

The Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) and the Oregon Coalition of Police and Sheriffs (ORCOPs) are both officially backing the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) 2.0 Act.

The Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation (CPEAR) announced the endorsements on Friday.

Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH), the prime sponsor of the STATES 2.0 Act, thanked the law enforcement associations, stating that, as a former prosecutor, “I know firsthand that our law enforcement officers are already stretched thin–forcing these public servants to walk a discrepant line between state and federal policy not only defies state’s rights but is an inefficient use of precious law enforcement resources.”

“Most importantly, it does nothing to enhance public safety and, in many cases, works against it,” he said. “The STATES 2.0 Act would address this confusing discrepancy and empower law enforcement in their efforts to enforce cannabis law and address the unique needs of the communities they represent.”

The bill—which is also being sponsored by Reps. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR), Brian Mast (R-FL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Troy Carter (D-LA)—would amend the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to undo federal criminalization of people acting in compliance with state cannabis programs, as well as those operated by Indian tribes.

It would further authorize interstate marijuana commerce and calls for a currently unspecified federal tax on cannabis sales to support regulations and enforcement.

“PORAC is pleased to support the STATES 2.0 Act, which strikes a crucial balance between state autonomy and federal oversight and provides a framework that promotes effective law enforcement practices,” Brian Marvel, president of PORAC, said in a press release. “This bill marks an important step forward to enhance cannabis regulation by empowering states to tailor their cannabis laws to best serve their individual communities. Legalizing cannabis at the state level doesn’t mean that the illegal cannabis markets in those states go away.”

“The STATES 2.0 Act will facilitate law enforcement’s focus on diminishing those illegal markets and the bad actors taking advantage of the growing legalization movement occurring in a majority of states throughout the country. This will also enable law enforcement agencies, many of whom are understaffed and underfunded, to focus their limited resources on addressing more serious crimes and illicit substances. Thank you, Congressman Joyce, for your leadership on this important legislation.”

Aaron Schmautz, president of ORCOPS, said “it’s critical that the federal government is working with the states to ensure that laws and policy provide for the intended outcome.”

“Law enforcement doesn’t operate in a vacuum. We operate under the public policy conditions in each of our states,” he said. “The historic disconnect between federal cannabis laws and individual states seeking to allow legal cannabis must be addressed – this bill does that effectively. We look forward to the positive impact that the STATES 2.0 Act will have on promoting public safety and advancing responsible cannabis policies across the country.”

The STATES 2.0 Act would also make it so revenue from marijuana sales in regulated state markets “shall not be subject to section 280E” of the IRS code, which currently prevents the industry from claiming federal tax deductions available to other traditional markets.

The legislation stipulates that the attorney general would have 180 days from enactment to finalize a rule amending the CSA to exempt states and tribes from federal marijuana prohibition.

“Local law enforcement groups know what their officers need, and that’s more say at the state level in how cannabis is regulated,” former Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), who serves as co-chair of CPEAR, said.

“They see firsthand the conflicts that arise when voters in states are in one place and antiquated federal policy is in another. That puts law enforcement, employers, banks, and anyone else in a costly, confusing mess,” he said. “The STATES 2.0 Act respects the will of voters, sets in place the right national framework, and supports our nation’s law enforcement officials. It’s the middle ground that works for all.”

During his time in Congress, Walden’s marijuana policy positions shifted in a number of ways. He initially voted against amendments to protect medical and recreational states from federal interference, as well as a bill to safeguard banks that work with state-legal cannabis businesses, for example. But he ultimately flipped to “yes” votes on those proposals shortly before retiring.

He also cosponsored legislation meant to streamline medical cannabis research—the latest version of which President Joe Biden signed into law in 2022.

“As an Oregonian, I’ve witnessed the evolution of cannabis policy at home and the conflict with federal policy in Washington, D.C. It’s time to update how cannabis is regulated while protecting the rights of states to have a say,” Walden said. “Moreover, national polling shows this middle ground is where the majority of Republicans and Democrats are in their views. It’s good policy and good politics—it’s now time for Congress to turn it into good law.”

Andrew Freedman, executive director of CPEAR, said the “STATES Act aligns federal policy with state policy, keeping law enforcement at the top of minds.”

“The bipartisan proposal makes a compelling argument for respecting states’ rights and promoting sensible drug policy reform,” he said. “By allowing individual states to determine their own cannabis laws without federal interference, STATES 2.0 Act acknowledges the diverse approaches and preferences of different regions across the country.”

“It is past time that Congress pass legislation that will protect our youth, protect our roads, battle against addiction and psychosis, and keep cannabis out of communities that do not want it,” he said.

CPEAR also commissioned a poll that was released in March showing that a strong majority of voters—including more than 60 percent of Republicans—support the congressional legislation to protect states’ rights to set their own marijuana laws.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based managing editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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