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Senator Warren on weed legalization: 'The federal government should just back off'

Adriana Belmonte
·Senior Editor

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) thinks that the federal government should “back off” while an increasing number of U.S. states legalize marijuana for various reasons.

“As you know, many states around the country have legalized marijuana, either for medical reasons or for medical and for recreational reasons,” Warren told Jen Rogers on the Final Round. “The problem, of course, is that nothing has changed at federal law.”

Warren noted that during the Obama administration, the policy involved not prosecuting federal laws in states that legalized marijuana. However, current Attorney General Jeff Sessions reversed that policy.

Warren and Cory Gardner (R-CO) are now pushing for bipartisan legislation that proposes an amendment to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Under the bill, people who use marijuana won’t face drug-trafficking charges as long as they comply with state and tribal laws. Essentially, as long as individuals and businesses act in compliance with the state laws, they would be able to operate without fear of federal prosecution.

The bill would make it so that “federal law can stay in place, but if a state has acted and the state has decided to legalize, then the federal government should just back off,” Warren said. “Let the states do what the states want to do. Let them enforce their own laws. That would then fix the problem of anybody being subject to arrest for either purchasing or selling.”

Photo: Lokal_Profil
Photo: Lokal_Profil
(Photo: Wikipedia)
(Photo: Wikipedia)

Forty-six U.S. states allow marijuana use for medical purposes. In 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize weed for recreational use. Massachusetts and Maryland legalized recreational use in 2016. Michigan, Utah, North Dakota, and Missouri will vote on some form of marijuana legalization in November midterm elections.

Warren believes that her proposed legislation would fix the current problem in the banking system, where those in the marijuana business can’t get access to their money because banks are afraid to do transactions with “illegal sources.” She added that the bill would also “fix the tax problems, whether or not a marijuana business can actually deduct its business expenses since — again, according to the federal government — that’s unlawful activity.”

Warren said that it all comes down to a vote on the Senate floor.

“So far, we’ve got Democrats and Republicans on board,” Warren said. “We’ve been bringing them on in pairs to co-sponsor. What we need is we need a vote on the floor of the Senate. And so far, Mitch McConnell hasn’t given us that. But if he would give us that vote, I actually feel pretty confident that we could get this thing passed.”

READ MORE: ‘Troubling and shocking’: Americans are increasingly crowdfunding medical costs