A congresswoman introduced a bill on Monday that would block the federal government from taking action against states that have legalized marijuana.
Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) filed the legislation—titled the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act—to give cannabis businesses and consumers in legal states peace of mind, protecting them from the federal enforcement of prohibition. The bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act to exempt states with legal marijuana from federal intervention.
“Colorado’s marijuana-related business owners are just like any other legitimate business owners in our state, and are currently contributing more than one billion a year to our state’s economy,” DeGette said in a press release. “There’s no reason why they should have to go to bed every night worried that the federal government could suddenly take it all away from them, and treat them like a criminal.”
I just introduced legislation to block the federal government from enforcing its anti-marijuana laws in states where it’s legal. Colorado’s marijuana-related businesses contribute more than $1 billion a year to our state’s economy. They shouldn’t be treated like criminals.
— Rep. Diana DeGette (@RepDianaDeGette) April 1, 2019
The congresswoman said that while Attorney General William Barr has told Congress that he wouldn’t use Justice Department resources to crack down on marijuana businesses operating in compliance with state law, his tough-on-crime background and existing federal cannabis laws nonetheless makes the legislation a necessary safeguard.
The legislation would shield state cannabis regulatory systems from court challenges alleges that they are preempted by federal law.
“In the case of any State law that pertains to marihuana, no provision of this title shall be construed as indicating an intent on the part of the Congress to occupy the field in which that provision operates, including criminal penalties, to the exclusion of State law on the same subject matter, nor shall any provision of this title be construed as preempting any such State law,” text of the bill states.
“As public support for legalization and regulation continues to rise, it is imperative that the hard fought progress we have made be protected from rogue U.S. attorneys, and this bill would serve as an important stop-gap measure until we end the federal criminalization of marijuana once and for all,” Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, told Marijuana Moment.
The legislation is similar in principle to another bipartisan bill that would protect legal cannabis states from federal interference, introduced last year by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) in the Senate and Reps. David Joyce (R-OH) and Earl Blumenaeur (D-OR) in the House.
New versions of that legislation are expected to be reintroduced soon, and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), chair of the powerful Rules Committee, said last week that the full House would be taking up the proposal within “weeks.”
Read the text of the Respect States’ and Citizens’ Rights Act of 2019 below: