Communities of Color are Being Locked Out of the Cannabis Industry?

The STATES Act Is Back. Can It Win Over Congress?


The STATES (Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States) Act, one of the leading efforts to end cannabis prohibition at the federal level, has stepped back into the spotlight.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) this week reintroduced the bipartisan bill, which would allow states to craft their own policies on cannabis. While it wouldn’t legalize the drug nationally, it would largely resolve the existing conflicts between state and federal law.

But although the measure has support on both sides of the aisle in the Capitol—and President Trump has signaled last year that he’ll “probably end up supporting” it’s by no means a done deal.



Created by Coalition

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act was first introduced last year by Warren and Gardner—both of whom represent states that have legalized cannabis— after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole memo, an Obama-era policy document that shielded legal cannabis states from federal interference.The act was intended to replace and expand on the Cole memo, and to enshrine cannabis protections in law rather than the Cole memo’s nonbinding Justice Department policy. In addition to harmonizing state and federal cannabis laws, it would also fund further inquiry into matters such as cannabis and traffic safety.

The newly reintroduced version has already earned the support of members of both main political parties. Although Warren, who is running for president in 2020, was absent from Wednesday’s  event, Gardner was joined by his peers in the House of Representatives, who have put forward a virtually identical bill. They included Democratic Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR), Barbara Lee (CA). and Joe Neguse (Colorado), as well as Republican Reps. David Joyce (Ohio) and Matt Gaetz (Florida).

“It’s past time for Congress to clarify cannabis policy on the federal level and ensure states are free to make their own decisions in the best interest of their constituents,” Joyce said in a statement. “The STATES Act does just that by respecting the will of the states that have legalized cannabis in some form and allowing them to implement their own policies without fear of repercussion from the federal government.”



Will It Pass? Roadblocks Remain

Although the STATES Act boasts broad bipartisan support, it’s by no means guaranteed to pass. The political climate around cannabis has changed dramatically since the Act was introduced a year ago. There’s a chance that progressive Democrats will shoot down the act, which doesn’t address questions of social justice or equity. A legalization measure in New York died this month largely because lawmakers couldn’t agree on such issues.

“Communities of color are being locked out of this industry,” Democrat Barbara Lee (California), who nevertheless supports the STATES Act, said at the bill’s reintroduction. “We have the opportunity to make this the most equitable industry in the country. Right now less than 1% of the cannabis industry is owned and operated by people of color. We can do much better than that.”

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?



Sponsors will also have to push the act through both the Republican-held Senate and the House Judiciary Committee, which is currently bogged down in investigations related to Russian interference in the 2016 election and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent report.

“That committee is pretty overwhelmed,” acknowledged Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), who supports legalization. “They’re dealing with a dozen different pressing problems.”

Optimists, however, argue that momentum for cannabis reform is building, particularly after the SAFE Banking Act cleared the House Financial Services Committee last week. Prohibition’s end, they say, is drawing near.

“This is an opportunity for us to break the logjam,“ said Rep.Blumenauer, a longtime legalization proponent and co-founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus. “The STATES Act is the next logical step in a comprehensive blueprint for more rational federal cannabis policy. It’s time for Congress to catch up with the rest of America are and fix a badly broken system.”


HatTipcanstockphoto53073149 Max Savage Levenson maxCROP-240x240

Max Savage Levenson likely has the lowest cannabis tolerance of any writer on the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other bespectacled folk. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.


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Tune in Tomorrow for the Willie Nelson, Doobie Brothers Testimony.

New Quarters Recalled



 


















New Quarters Recalled

Hang on to any of the new State of Arkansas quarters. If you have them, they may be worth much more than 25 cents. The U.S. Treasury announced today that it is recalling all of the Arkansas quarters that are part of its program featuring quarters from each state.

“We are recalling all the new Arkansas quarters that were recently issued,” Treasury Undersecretary Jack Shackleford said Monday. “This action is being taken after numerous reports that new quarters will not work in parking meters, toll booths, vending machines, pay phones, or other coin-operated devices”.

The quarters were issued in the order in which the various states joined the U.S. and have been a tremendous success among coin collectors worldwide.

“The problem lies in the unique design of the Arkansas quarter, which was created by a University of Arkansas graduate,” Shackleford said. “Apparently, the duct tape holding the two dimes and the nickel together keeps jamming the coin-operated devices