New Marijuana Legislation Will Let States Decide Their Pot Laws (Again), Elizabeth Warren Announces

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A new bipartisan bill will give states more power when it comes to deciding on their own marijuana laws, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) announced Monday.

“I’m working with a bipartisan group to try to roll back the changes that the attorney general has made so that the states can make their own determination about their marijuana laws and how they want to enforce them,” Warren said at a press conference in Cambridge, Massachusetts, according to MassLive.com.

Warren was speaking during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration and did not reveal details of the legislation, which has not yet been released. More details should emerge in the next few weeks, a spokesperson said.

However, Warren has voiced her opposition to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ plans to enforce federal marijuana laws, writing on Facebook and Twitter that marijuana policy should be left up to the states.

“States have the right to enforce their own marijuana policies—and I’m working on legislation to make sure it stays that way,” Warren wrote on Facebook. “Massachusetts and other states have already implemented their own commonsense marijuana regulations, and the Justice Department’s reckless actions have only created uncertainty for legitimate businesses.”

The legislation will be a direct response to Sessions’ decision to rescind the Cole memo, an Obama-era policy that protected states’ rights to decide on their own marijuana laws. Sessions announced his decision in the first week of January, right on the heels of California’s historic recreational-use legalization, calling it a return to the “rule of law.” Indeed, marijuana remains illegal on the federal level. But so many Americans support it—with some 90 percent in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, and 29 states and the District of Columbia doing so.

The previous policy, enacted by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, directed the Department of Justice to focus its resources on prosecuting what it considered more serious marijuana crimes, like drug cartels and sales to minors. It left general marijuana use and medical use up to state law enforcement, and state governments could decide on their laws and make sure applicable restrictions on sales were enforced.

Sessions has made clear his desire to have the federal government handle marijuana regulation. He has pushed Congress to oppose another crucial barrier between state and federal governments in the marijuana legalization movement: the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, a budget bill that stops the Justice Department from using any resources to prosecute medical marijuana usage in states where it’s legal.

The status of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment will be announced on Friday, when Congress will either vote on a budget bill, bring about a government shutdown or delay the vote by another few weeks.

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