Cannabis and Federal Intervention: Could The End Be Near?


The STATES Act of 2018 was introduced to ensure each State has the right to determine, for itself, the best approach to marijuana use, sales and enforcement within its border.

Forty-six U.S. states have laws permitting, or decriminalizing, marijuana or marijuana-based products. Each of these states has developed their own approaches to marijuana enforcement.  As more continue to consider updates to their marijuana regulations, it has become crucial that Congress take action to safeguard the states’ enforcement autonomy.

On June 7, 2018, the first bicameral, bipartisan legislation was introduced that could end the threat of federal intervention and prosecution – in states that regulate marijuana use and sales.  This legislation appears to have Presidential support, and now Congress must do its part by moving this legislation forward.

The STATES Act

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act of 2018 was introduced to ensure each State has the right to determine, for itself, the best approach to marijuana use, sales and enforcement within its border.  This bill also contains common-sense guardrails to ensure states, territories, and tribes, which regulate marijuana, do so in a manner that is safe and respectful of the impacts on their neighbors. 

What Does The Act Do?

Here are some highlights:

  • Amends the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) so, as long as states and tribes comply with a few basic protections, its provisions no longer apply to any person acting in compliance with state or tribal laws relating to marijuana activities
     
  • Excludes industrial hemp from the CSA
     
  • Provides banks with additional guidance, thus lifting prior restrictions. The act states that compliant transactions are not trafficking, and do not result in proceeds of an unlawful transaction
     
  • Prohibits the following:
    • Distribution of marijuana at transportation safety facilities such as rest areas and truck stops
    • Distribution or sale of recreational marijuana to persons under the age of 21. There is an exception for medical purposes
    • Employment of persons under age 18 in marijuana operations

What Does The Act Not Do?

The Act does not amend the CSA as to marijuana (other than hemp) which in turn does not alleviate the effects of Tax Code 280E for the marijuana industry

Could this be the first step to the end of federal intervention?

Stay tuned.  Lindsey Weidenbach, at JDSA Law, is closely following this developing legislation regarding marijuana use and sales, and will update the JDSA Blog as the topic unfolds.