Last week, a bipartisan group of 21 state attorneys general sent a letter to congressional leaders imploring Congress to pass marijuana reform legislation. Specifically, the letter exhorts Congress to pass the proposed Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act (the “STATES Act”), or similar legislation, that would “allow each State and territory to determine, for itself, the best approach to marijuana legalization within its borders, while at the same time creating protections to ensure that such regulation does not impose negative externalities on those states and territories that choose other approaches.” Whether by design or not, the attorneys general picked a good time, with marijuana reform currently riding significant momentum after the House’s passage of the SAFE Banking Act.
Much like the arguments in support of the SAFE Baking Act, the attorneys general point to significant problems caused by the dichotomy that occurs when marijuana is legal at the state level but illegal at the federal level, including the burden it places on businesses and law enforcement. The letter also highlights the public-safety threat and taxation and regulatory-compliance concerns inherent with cash-intensive industries like the current marijuana market.
Twenty of the 21 signatories were from states (or D.C.) that have legalized recreational or medical marijuana, with the exception being the Iowa attorney general. Although that may mitigate the impact of the letter somewhat, it is yet another example of the increased pressure being put on Congress and federal agencies to deal with the reality of the current marijuana industry and where it seems to be headed. We’ve written about other examples here, here, here, and here. Please check out our blog for further updates regarding developments in the cannabis industry.