In a welcome move to those who use or are considering using medical marijuana, the grey area between federal law and state cannabis legalization could soon be removed thanks to a new bill aimed at guarding the legal cannabis industries in those states which have allowed and nurtured their development.

The STATES Act (Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States) has bipartisan support across congress from Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Earl Blumenauer, as well as Republican Senator Cory Garden and Senator David Joyce. All from states where legal medical marijuana industries are flourishing, this act will safeguard existing businesses within the space from being affected by the technical federal illegality.

Undoubtedly a key development in cannabis legalization across the US, the act will work by creating an exemption to the US Controlled Substances Act; removing industrial hemp from the existing act entirely, and removing the illegality of cannabis and related products from those states whereby localised legality exists. This will entirely remove the ‘grey area’ of federal illegality taking precedent over state laws which at present can be extremely damaging to businesses and individuals who rely upon cannabis. What’s more, the cannabis industry will for the first time have access to safe banking practises, something which has been forbidden due to the previous overarching federal illegality of the industry. This is set to protect both businesses and the consumer.

However, it’s worth noting that the STATES Act is set to introduce some strict rules and regulations around the industry too, aiming at better management and transparency. Such guidelines include a minimum age of 18 to work within the industry, a minimum age of 21 to purchase related products unless specifically prescribed by a medical professional, and a sturdy structure within which to define and prohibit any “unsafe production conditions” from taking place. It also would not allow cannabis commerce across state lines.

The Act will give specific onus to the will of a state’s voters over that of an older federal law, whether they have voted for or against cannabis legalization and has been branded “a common sense approach” by all political parties. Representative Joyce said: “If the people of these states have decided to provide help for those veterans and others suffering from pain and other health issues, we should allow them access without government interference”.

Now, the Republican-controlled congress must pass the STATES Act if it is to take effect. It is said that Senator Gardner has had agreement from President Donald Trump in supporting this; and with the President set to be present in Canada during their cannabis legalization vote, it should be at the forefront of his mind in the weeks and months ahead. Canada is expected to pass through cannabis legalization shortly, freeing their citizens of the current confusing restrictions that are in place with the contradictory laws in the US.

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