Marijuana Facts

Cory Gardner restarts effort to keep federal hands off Colorado cannabis

A bipartisan group in Congress, including Colorado’s two senators, re-introduced legislation Thursday to prevent federal authorities from enforcing prohibitions on marijuana in states like Colorado where it has been legalized.

Sen. Cory Gardner, a Yuma Republican, joined with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in announcing re-introduction of the bill, known as the STATES Act. Companion legislation in the House is being co-sponsored by Rep. Joe Neguse, a Lafayette Democrat, among others.

“Congress does a few things very well and a lot of things very poorly,” Gardner said at a news conference on Capitol Hill. “One of the things it does very well is keep its head in the sand, and that’s exactly what it’s done on federal marijuana policy.”

Gardner said Coloradans have had their bank accounts frozen and have been denied home loans because they work in the cannabis industry. He also cited the case of two legal immigrants in Denver who say their citizenship applications were denied because of their employment in the cannabis industry.

“We get it on the floor of the House, it passes,” Gardner said of his bill. “We get it on the floor of the Senate, it passes. It passes overwhelmingly and it passes with bipartisan support.” Gardner later added that President Donald Trump has vowed to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

The STATES Act was first introduced last year but failed to garner any traction in the Republican-controlled Senate. In December, Gardner tried attaching it to a criminal justice reform bill but was denied by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican.

“Many Coloradans are deeply embarrassed that Senator Gardner has become a champion of the increased cartel and black market activity that is harming other states,” said Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an anti-cannabis group, in a statement opposing the bill Thursday.