WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), along with a bipartisan group of 17 senators, this week sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), urging them to respect states’ laws regarding the regulation of marijuana when finalizing fiscal year 2018 appropriations. Medical marijuana has been available with a certification from a health professional at licensed dispensaries in Maryland since December 2017.
The majority of states have some form of reduced restrictions on marijuana. Recognizing this, the Department of Justice has issued a series of guidance memoranda over the last several years outlining a federal-state framework upon which citizens rely to establish legitimate businesses. However, on January 4, 2018, the Attorney General rescinded this guidance. In this week’s letter, the lawmakers requested that fiscal year 2018 appropriations respect states’ laws in order to revert to the previous framework for marijuana regulations.
The senators wrote that rescinding years of guidance has created “disruption, confusion, and uncertainty throughout the country. Citizens who have been acting in good faith based on federal and state assurances now feel exposed. This disruption may deny medications to the sick, push individuals back into illicit markets, and nullify the previously-effective regulations – all while thwarting the democratically-expressed will of the states.”
“It is our hope that the fiscal year 2018 appropriations will alleviate the turbulence the Attorney General’s abrupt decision has caused and that the appropriations will help preserve the strong regulatory frameworks the states have created,” the senators continued. “Doing so will provide the opportunity to pursue federal legislation that both protects the legitimate federal interests at stake and respects the will of the states – both those that have liberalized their marijuana laws and those that have not.”
In addition to Cardin, the signatories of the letter include U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.).
A copy of the letter is available HERE.