Once socially unacceptable, marijuana use has slowly been embraced by lawmakers across the country. Over the past few years, drug laws in a handful of states have been modified to make cannabis legal for both medicinal and recreational purposes. However, these new laws remain in constant jeopardy should the federal government, which still considers marijuana a dangerous and useless drug, interfere and try to reverse them.
The Denver Post reports that a new bill introduced in Congress by Senators Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warner aims to keep the decision of marijuana legalization in the hands of the states without the threat of prosecution from the Department of Justice. Under the language of the legislation, states will have the right to determine how cannabis will be regulated within their jurisdictions.
Per a report from the Los Angeles Times, should the bill ultimately pass Congress and move to the White House for signature, President Donald Trump said he would “probably” support it. This morning just as he boarded a helicopter on the way to join other world leaders at the G-7 summit in Canada, Trump was asked about the Senate weed bill.
“I support Sen. Gardner,” said Trump in response to the reporter’s question. “I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.”
The president’s answer is in direct contrast with the nation’s top law enforcer, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Earlier this year, Sessions withdrew a previous federal government policy that chose to ignore the sale and distribution of marijuana if the transactions were legal under state law.
Until the federal ban is lifted, marijuana businesses remain at a disadvantage. By law, federally-chartered banks cannot do business with companies involved with cannabis, forcing many to seek alternative means of managing cash flow. In addition, with an unclear legal future for the marijuana industry, many investors shy away from putting money at risk with weed startups.
Marijuana research is also extremely limited with the federal prohibition of the plant. Research labs and scientists would have a consistent, reliable supply of cannabis and be able to create uniform testing procedures should the federal government change existing legislation to allow the plant to be studied.
So far, nine states and the District of Columbia allow adults to use marijuana recreationally. In another 20 states, people suffering from certain medical conditions are allowed to use the plant for treatment.