US Senator plans to pitch measure to resolve cannabis’ legal, financial issues

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U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner plans to introduce an amendment to a criminal justice reform bill that would fully protect state-legal marijuana programs as well as resolve banking and taxation issues that currently vex the MJ industry, his office confirmed Friday.

The proposed amendment would be similar to language in the STATES (Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States) Act, a bill co-sponsored by the Colorado Republican and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said Casey Contres, a Gardner spokesman.

Contres confirmed a Denver Post report that Gardner could offer the amendment as early as next week, when debate on the criminal justice reform bill is expected to begin.

“This is by far and away the best shot we’ve had so far” of legalizing marijuana on a federal basis, Gardner told the Denver Post.

Rob Kampia, a veteran marijuana lobbyist and former executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, praised the strategy but indicated the amendment would be a long shot.

“It’s always a smart strategy to try attaching your legislation to another bill that’s definitely moving,” Kampia wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily.

“Indeed, that’s why we’ve focused on amending the must-pass spending bills in Congress annually.

“That said, it’s really difficult to attach an amendment that doesn’t have demonstrable majority support in one or both chambers.”

Regardless of the outcome, “ensuring states’ rights are recognized when it comes to the regulation of marijuana is a fight we should continue to have,” Contres wrote in a statement.

“While it’s an uphill battle to get a vote, he (Gardner) is committed to having this fight next week and any time after.”

Jeff Smith can be reached at