The STATES Act Will Expose Flawed Marijuana Legacy
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The STATES Act Will Expose Flawed Marijuana Legacy
Posted by CN Staff on April 20, 2019 at 10:42:22 PT
By J.J. Rich, Opinion Contributor
Source: Hill
Washington, D.C. -- In anticipation of inevitable marijuana legalization, Congress is introducing legislation attempting to end the futile federal prohibition of pot. Now that the vast majority of Americans support legalizing all forms of cannabis, politicians from both parties, from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) to Rep. David Joyce (R-Ohio) now endorse the STATES Act — a bill that would legalize practically all marijuana-related activities at the federal level, at least where they are permitted by state law.
Even though this bill offers a long-awaited sign of sanity absent in the drug war debate, it still leaves much to be desired. Instead of outright legalizing marijuana at the federal level, the law instead cedes federal legality only if the behavior happens in a state that has legalized it. And marijuana will foolishly remain an entirely prohibited Schedule I narcotic under all other circumstances.Given the STATES Act’s unusual bipartisan support, the media has speculated endlessly on the implications of its potential ratification. But the truth is that this bill is incredibly vague and will elicit many contradictions between state and federal laws, likely leading to a plethora of bureaucratic challenges.The Capitol Research Center’s Michael Watson derides the bill as a Colorado cannabis industry conspiracy to restrict competition by outlawing interstate marijuana trade, although the bill never explicitly discusses interstate commerce. In fact, if states border each other and all permit the transportation of marijuana across state lines, the language of the bill seems to protect the activity as long as the marijuana stays within those jurisdictions. However, transporting Schedule I narcotics like marijuana across state lines in other states will remain a felony, and this state-level exemption is likely to be challenged by the Drug Enforcement Administration, who has a history of neglecting state marijuana legalization efforts.But the trickiest and most consequential consideration will be how this law affects the possession of firearms. Since 2011, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has made it clear that marijuana users — even those with a medical prescription — cannot possess firearms. The language of the STATES Act makes marijuana consumption legal in compliant states, and since the ATF currently cites marijuana’s federal illegality as justification to suspend gun rights, it seems (sober) use of firearms by marijuana users in some states will finally be permitted. Otherwise law abiding gun owners who consume cannabis have long-awaited the opportunity to be honest about their habits, but again, expect an immediate ATF challenge.The law also only protects against actions that don’t “violate the Controlled Substances Act with respect to any other substance.” Meaning if someone possesses marijuana and illegally possesses another controlled substance like cocaine, even in a state that allows marijuana possession, federal penalties regarding marijuana can still be applied by prosecutors. This addition will not affect most marijuana consumers, but it is unjust to use an otherwise legal activity as justification to increase the sentencing for crimes that already carry disproportionate punishment.These clumsy examples only expose the archaic scheduling regime. But since overhauling the Food and Drug Administration is not politically practical, Congress should instead introduce legislation that addresses the unique concerns of marijuana.First, it should completely deschedule the marijuana plant and allow states to regulate it like other recreationally available drugs, such as tobacco and alcohol. Second, it should call on the FDA to appropriately schedule marijuana derivatives that have passed clinical trials to cure diseases, such as Epidiolex, which was certified to relieve severe seizures in children. The STATES Act is not sufficient to address these regulatory needs, but at least it won’t leave a legacy of clumsy regulation.In fact, the bill contains a single proposal that almost all can support — a provision that “the Comptroller General of the United States shall conduct a study on the effects of marihuana legalization on traffic safety: “The study conducted under subsection (a) shall include a detailed assessment of traffic crashes, fatalities, and injuries in 17 States that have legalized marihuana use, including whether States are able to accurately evaluate marihuana impairment in those incidents.” This is reasonable, because the unique nature of marijuana impairment has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to admit “it is unclear whether marijuana use actually increases the risk of car crashes” and the study would be completed within a year of enactment.The STATES Act at least shows that the political conversation surrounding cannabis has finally matured. Unfortunately, the actual bill is little more than a bipartisan virtue signal from Congress. Democrats get to say they legalized marijuana and Republicans get to say they respect powers reserved to the states, without either really being true. And Congress will invite itself many opportunities to pass bipartisan legislation to address the plethora of federal and state-level regulatory contradictions that will follow after the bill is passed. In order to avoid the political circus and conundrums, it might be best to leave rescheduling to the executive branch.J.J. Rich is a policy analyst at Reason Foundation and a Young Voices contributor. Source: Hill, The (US DC)Author: J.J. Rich, Opinion ContributorPublished: April 20, 2019Copyright: 2019 The HillContact: editor thehill.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on May 07, 2019 at 11:44:29 PT
Thinking about those polls...
Biden is a dinosaur. It's not his age that makes him a dinosaur. It's his perceptions. I suspect that the bulk of this polling goes on among a dinosaur weighted segment of the citizenry.
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Comment #3 posted by afterburner on May 05, 2019 at 20:07:31 PT
Me, Neither
One black woman on CNN said that she was leaning toward Biden because if he won the Presidency, then Obama would be invited to the White House. That seems like a pretty lame reason, considering all the damage Biden has caused to the black community and other minorities due to his extreme views and prohibitionist laws. I hope she was only joking.
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Comment #2 posted by Hope on May 05, 2019 at 18:32:49 PT
Bad News Biden
I can't understand how the man can be polling so high among the Democratic candidates.
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Comment #1 posted by afterburner on May 05, 2019 at 12:36:14 PT
Just Sayin'
POLITICS. Where Presidential Candidate Joe Biden Stands On Marijuana. Published 1 week ago on April 25, 2019 By Kyle Jaeger
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