Colorado representatives intro bill to shield state marijuana laws from feds

Colorado Reps. Diana DeGette and Mike Coffman have introduced a bill to protect states’ marijuana laws from federal enforcement.

The Respect States and Citizens Rights’ Act of 2017 aims to insert a provision into the Controlled Substances Act that would ensure against federal preemption of state law:

“(b) SPECIAL RULE REGARDING STATE MARIHUANA LAWS.–In the case of any State law that pertains to marihuana, no provision of this title shall be construed as indicating an intent on the part of the Congress to occupy the field in which that provision operates, including criminal penalties, to the exclusion of State law on the same subject matter, nor shall any provision of this title be construed as preempting any such State law.”

Related: Why the federal government still calls cannabis “marihuana”

The bipartisan bill is a reintroduction of legislation proposed by DeGette, a Democrat, and Coffman, a Republican, following Amendment 64’s passage in 2012.

Passing the bill “is now more important than ever before,” DeGette said in a statement, referring to signals that the Trump administration may bring greater enforcement against state marijuana laws.

“My colleagues and I — along with our constituents — spoke out frequently during the Obama administration to make clear we didn’t want the federal government denying money to our states or taking other punitive steps that would undermine the will of our citizens,” DeGette said in the statement. “Lately, we’ve had even more reason for these concerns, given Trump administration statements. This bill makes clear that we’re not going back to the days of raids on legal dispensaries, of folks living in fear that they’re not going to get the medical marijuana they need, or that they might get jailed for using it.”

Coffman, in a statement, argued that this issue is a matter of states’ rights:

“While I have opposed the legalization of marijuana, the people of Colorado voted for an initiative in 2012 that legalized marijuana and placed it in our state’s constitution. … Since this is clearly not a matter of interstate commerce, I believe that the people of Colorado had every right, under the U.S. Constitution, to decide this issue for themselves and as their representative in Congress, I have an obligation to respect the will of the people of Colorado and that’s why I’m reintroducing this bill with Congresswoman DeGette.”

The Cannabist has requested interviews with DeGette and Coffman.

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This story is developing and will be updated.

The Cannabist

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