Congressman Gaetz Speaks at Press Conference Introducing STATES Act, Calls for Hearing in Judiciary Committee

April 4, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (FL-01), along with U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Joe Neguse (D-CO), and Dave Joyce (R-OH), announced the introduction of the STATES Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation allowing individual states to set their own marijuana laws and policies.

Over thirty states, including Florida, have legalized either medical or recreational cannabis, but cannabis remains illegal under federal law, and is categorized as a schedule 1 substance. The conflict between federal laws and state laws has caused many problems, including the inability of cannabis businesses to access the banking system. By leaving cannabis laws to individual states, the federalist approach of the STATES Act resolves many of the legal problems facing cannabis. During his confirmation hearing before the Senate, Attorney General Bill Barr implored Congress to change federal cannabis laws, and suggested taking a federalist approach, like the STATES Act, to cannabis reform.

Rep. Gaetz is Congress’s leading conservative voice for cannabis reform and has been vocal in his support for medical cannabis, which can reduce dependency on opioids, and has shown promise in treating many of America’s most vulnerable populations, including veterans.

Rep. Gaetz’s remarks at the press conference can be found HERE.

Following the introduction of the STATES Act, Rep. Gaetz and Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), calling for an immediate hearing on the STATES Act.

A copy of the letter is available PDF iconHERE, and the text is below:

Dear Chairman Nadler:

The legal status of cannabis in the United States is in disarray. It is incumbent on Congress to clarify these issues and reform our federal laws. More than 30 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the medicinal and/or recreational use of cannabis. Other states have opted to decriminalize cannabis possession, or to legalize the consumption of certain cannabis-derived extracts. Some states still prohibit cannabis use of any kind. Given that the substance is still a Schedule I drug under federal law, this conflicting patchwork of state and federal laws has created a unique set of legal challenges.

Since 2009, the conflict between federal law and various state statutes has repeatedly led the Department of Justice to provide, amend, and withdraw guidance to U.S. Attorneys about how to prioritize enforcement of laws governing the cultivation, distribution, and sale of cannabis.

In January 2019, Attorney General William Barr spoke to these concerns during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee: “I think the current situation is untenable and really has to be addressed. It’s almost like a back-door nullification of federal law.” He also said that “[I]f we want a federal approach, if we want states to have their own laws, let’s get there the right way.”

Attorney General Barr rightly notes that federalism offers lawmakers a Constitutional path forward here. While many bills attempt to address and change federal cannabis laws, the STATES Act (H.R. 6043 in the 115th Congress) ensures that each state has the right to set its own policies governing the use — or limitation — of cannabis within its borders. 

We believe this Committee and this Congress must act to clarify the rights and responsibilities, relative to cannabis, of individuals, physicians, businesses, medical patients, and law enforcement officials.

We support the STATES Act, which was recently re-introduced in the 116th Congress, and we urge you to promptly hold a legislative hearing on legislative solutions that will resolve the confusion surrounding the legality of cannabis in the United States.

Thank you for your consideration.



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