Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has predicted that the U.S. Senate will vote on a pending marijuana legalization bill if the Democratic Party takes control of the legislative body in November’s election. The senator made the comments during an interview with Rolling Stone.
Warren and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States, or STATES, Act in June of this year. If passed, the bill would amend the Controlled Substances Act so that it is no longer applicable to statutes “relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of” cannabis.
“I feel confident that if the Democrats recapture the Senate we’ll get a vote on this, and the vote will carry,” Warren said. “I think we’ve got the votes for this.”
Protection From Jeff Sessions
The senator went on to say that she is trying to protect her constituents who are complying with Massachusetts state law from prosecution by the federal government.
“I care about this marijuana bill because I care about people in my home state who are at risk of getting arrested by Jeff Sessions for either buying marijuana or running a marijuana business,” said Warren. “And I also care about when a state decides that marijuana should be legalized either for medicinal purposes or recreational purposes, or both, that the state ought to be the one who controls here. And that’s what this STATES Act is all about.”
Warren said that she was spurred to act on the issue by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ tough stance on cannabis.
“Let me describe it this way: We are in a moment when Jeff Sessions highlighted aggressive law enforcement on marijuana and a lot of folks here in Congress looked at each other and said, ‘That’s a bad idea,’ ” Warren said. “What Cory [Gardener] and I have done is give them a place to channel that where we can make real change. Now we just need to get a vote from Mitch [McConnell].”
Trump Hints At Approval
Warren said that the bill is popular with fellow Democrats and noted that President Trump has indicated that he will sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.
“We’ve got plenty of colleagues on the Democratic side who will support this, and Donald Trump said it sounded like a good idea to him,” Warren said. “He’s said it, I think, three different times now. So I’m pretty hopeful that if we could get a vote in Congress that we could actually get this passed.”
Warren said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been an obstacle to getting a vote on the STATES Act in the Senate.
“So the way over that hurdle is to get enough Republicans to push Mitch McConnell,” Warren said. “And we’ve been bringing people on to our bill two by two; a little like Noah’s Ark: A Democrat and a Republican join hands and become cosponsors on our bill. We now have multiple cosponsors [in the Senate]. We have lots on the House side. In other words, we have a lot of people on McConnell’s team who are pushing McConnell to do this.”
A change in congressional leadership may be necessary if the STATES Act is to succeed. Despite bipartisan support in both houses, the bill has stalled.