Many bills introduced in Congress are often referred to as dead on arrival. Most members of Congress know that in order for a bill to have a shot at passing, members of both the republican and democratic party must sponsor the bill. Otherwise, the bill is unlikely to gain enough support on both sides of the aisle to have a chance for passage. The bill that may lead to marijuana legalization nationwide may have just been introduced by Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and Colorado Republican Senator Cory Gardner.
In fact, Warren and Gardner’s bill, The STATES Act, has already gained the support of President Trump. While speaking with reporters before boarding his flight to the highly anticipated Group of 7 Summit in Canada, the president stated that he would probably support the bill when asked about it by reporters. It is unlikely a coincidence that the introduction of this new bill and the president’s support of it happened a day after Canada’s senate legalized cannabis nationally.
“I support Senator Gardner. I know exactly what he’s doing,” Trump told reporters when asked about the legislation. “We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.”
“This is a states’ right issue,” Gardner said in a statement Friday. “I was glad to hear the president’s comments this morning and his continued interest in an approach that respects the will of the voters in each state regarding the prohibition or legalization of marijuana.”
Even those wary of a president who often says one thing and does another are hopeful. Tom Angell, founder of the nonprofit Marijuana Majority, said via email, “The president’s comments may well break the dam.”
“Hopefully President Trump’s support will be enough to convince House and Senate leaders to at least allow a vote on this bill,” he said.
On the campaign trail, President Trump stated that he supported states’ rights to decide on legalizing cannabis for adult-use. After appointing Jeff Sessions as the attorney general, a strong opponent to cannabis legalization, many advocates questioned the president’s support. However, Jeff Sessions is not well liked by President Trump any more and some are speculating the move to support The STATES Act may be due to spite.
When Sessions overturned the Cole Memo earlier this year, a justice department letter that advised U.S. attorneys not to prosecute state legal cannabis businesses or users, Senator Gardner lost his patience. Colorado legalized adult-use cannabis in 2014 and has been highly criticized by Sessions. As a key member of a panel that appoints nominees to the justice department, Gardner blocked all appointees until the president promised that he would not let the attorney general pursue Colorado cannabis businesses. President Trump’s support of Gardner’s new bill may be a continuation of that particular conversation. Whether out of spite towards Sessions, a promise to Sen. Gardner or because Trump genuinely supports states’ rights to decide, this may be the marijuana bill cannabis advocates have been waiting for.