US senators pitch bipartisan bill to resolve cannabis’ legal, banking, tax issues

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(This story has been updated from an earlier version.)

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner unveiled legislation Thursday that would fully protect state-legal marijuana programs as well as resolve banking and taxation issues dogging the MJ industry.

The measure – which faces uphill odds before November’s midterm elections – also would legalize industrial hemp nationwide.

Don Murphy, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, highlighted the bill’s bipartisan support and called it the “most significant piece of marijuana-related legislation ever introduced in Congress.”

The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act, or STATES Act, aims to resolve the current conflict between states with legal cannabis programs and federal law that classifies marijuana as illegal.

Gardner, from Colorado, said he talked with President Trump on Thursday and the president remains supportive of the states’ rights concept.

The legislation would:

  • Protect state-legal cannabis programs by exempting them from federal drug laws.
  • Allow individual states to decide whether to make marijuana legal.
  • Permit MJ businesses in state-legal programs to take ordinary tax deductions. They currently can’t do so.
  • Allow MJ businesses to put money in federally insured banks; all transactions and proceeds in state-legal programs would be considered lawful.
  • Remove industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances.

A House version is being introduced by Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, David Joyce, R-Ohio, and Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon.

During a news conference streamed on Warren’s Facebook page, the Massachusetts senator said she believes “there’s enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle to get this done.”

Previous legislation has dealt with the issues confronting the marijuana industry in more of a piecemeal fashion.