House Bill Would Permit Interstate Cannabis Commerce

Could companies soon be able to ship cannabis across state lines?
House Bill Would Permit Interstate Cannabis Commerce
Bobkov Evgeniy/ Shutterstock

Two lawmakers from Oregon introduced a bill in the U.S. Congress on Thursday that would allow for the interstate commerce of cannabis between states with legal pot. Under the measure from Democrats Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, federal agencies would be prohibited from interfering with cannabis trade between states that have specifically authorized such transfers.

If successful, the bill would allow for the implementation of an Oregon state measure authorizing the export of marijuana to other states with legal cannabis. That bill, which was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown earlier this week, is seen as a way to deal with the state’s ongoing glut of legal marijuana.

Protecting States’ Rights

Wyden said in a press release on Thursday that the new federal bill, the State Cannabis Commerce Act, aims to preserve states’ rights while Congress struggles with the broader issue of marijuana legalization at the national level.

“As more and more states legalize cannabis, the gap between state and federal laws will only grow more confusing for both legal businesses and consumers,” Wyden said. “The solution is clear: the federal government needs to end its senseless and out of touch prohibition. As we fight for that ultimate goal, however, Congress can and should immediately act to protect the will of Oregonians and voters in other states from federal interference—and that should include interstate cannabis commerce.”

The introduction of the State Cannabis Commerce Act comes only days after representatives in Congress approved a Blumenauer amendment to an appropriations bill that would protect cannabis businesses complying with state or tribal regulations.

“The federal government is hopelessly out of touch with the American people on cannabis,” Blumenauer said. “Last week, the House agreed and passed my amendments to forbid the federal government from interfering with cannabis programs in the states, D.C. and tribal communities. This week, we are turning to a top priority for Oregonians—allowing for interstate sale of cannabis. It’s past time we protect the states, like Oregon, that have gotten it right.”

The protections afforded in the State Cannabis Commerce Act are similar to those in place since 2014 for medical marijuana patients and providers. But the bill also extends that protection to all compliant businesses and consumers, including those in states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.

Promoting Cannabis Trade

Justin Strekal, the political director of activist group the National Orgainization for the Reform of Mariuan Laws (NORML), said in a statement that cannabis should be treated like other regulated consumer commodities.

“Interstate commerce is good for both patients and consumers, as it will decrease the amount of time it takes for recently enacted medical programs to see products on the shelves and increase the variety of consumer options in both the adult-use and medical marketplaces,” Strekal said.“Just as Americans around the country enjoy Kentucky bourbon, so should they be allowed to enjoy Oregon cannabis.”

Blumenauer and Wyden have also campaigned for their “Path to Marijuana Reform,” a package of bills to legalize cannabis at the federal level. Senate Bill 420 would deschedule, regulate, and tax cannabis while Senate bills 421 and 422 would “shrink the gap between federal and state cannabis laws and keep the federal government out of the way,” according to the lawmakers.

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