People hold signs while listening to speakers in front of the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 11, 2017 during a rally organized by Americans for Safe Access (ASA) which advocates for safe and legal access to medical cannabis. (Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern revealed that the Federal Government is just “weeks” away from voting on legislation that would protect states with legal cannabis from federal intervention.
The bill, entitled the “Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States” (STATES) Act, was filed in June 2018 by Colorado’s Republican Senator Cory Gardner, and Massachusetts’ Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren.
The Warren-Gardner bill is designed to protect state-legal cannabis businesses; some of which are still being raided by the feds, and all of which still have to do all their dealings in cash. Banks don’t want to touch money that was made off sales of a herb that is technically federally illegal. And that’s dangerous for the business, its employees, and its customers too.
On Thursday, another bill designed to protect cannabis businesses, entitled the SAFE Banking Act, was voted through the House Financial Services Committee 45-15, including 11 Republicans. It has 152 co-sponsors, the most of any cannabis reform legislation in history. The support for cannabis is there.
If it passes, the Warren-Gardner bill would amend the Federal Controlled Substances Act so that federal prohibition of cannabis would not apply in states that have legalized the plant. In effect; if the legislation passes and you’re in accordance with your state laws on pot, you’d be considered as in compliance with federal laws on pot as well.
The vote on this bill is happening soon, first in a key House committee, then onto the full House. According to Congressman Jim McGovern who chairs the House Rules Committee and spoke Wednesday night to Boston Herald Radio, “In the House, we will move on this issue within the next few weeks.” And he seems pretty confident they have the votes to pass it, adding; “You have liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans and everybody in between, all understanding it makes sense to update our laws.”
McGovern’s predecessor, Texas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions, had spent much of his time blocking every piece of cannabis legislation that came his way.
But, McGovern says, while “the previous chair … blocked everything cannabis related, we are in a new day. We need to make sure that our federal laws don’t obstruct what states are doing, especially with regard to the banking issue, where everything is being done in cash... this is not the way we want this to go.”
Congressman McGovern, Senator Gardner, and Senator Warren all believe the bill will easily pass the House Rules Committee and the House with no problem at all. They even have faith it could get through the Senate with bipartisan backing. But if it doesn’t, McGovern says he still thinks 2019 is the year for change; “Whether it’s the Warren-Gardner bill or another configuration, I would expect something would happen this year.”
When the House and Senate do finally vote a cannabis legalization bill through, there will be one final step before it can become law. The President must agree to the whole thing. McGovern says “I don’t know where the President stand on this issue…but I’m confident he will get a bill.”
Well, I looked it up. On June 8th of last year, President Trump said this; “I really do. I support Senator Gardner...I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.” There you have it folks; the countdown to full legalization is officially on.