As the White House threatens to go after the marijuana industry, Congressman Thomas Garrett strives to protect state laws.
It has been a stressful week for members of the marijuana industry. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made several foreboding statements that suggest a possible large-scale crackdown. But a congressman from Virginia is aiming to keep Sessions and the White House away from state marijuana laws.
“Virginia is more than capable of handling its own marijuana policy, as are states such as Colorado or California,” Rep. Thomas Garrett said in a statement.
Garrett introduced the “Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017” bill this week. It is similar to a bill introduced by Bernie Sanders (D-VT) in 2015 but seems to have more support among congressional peers. Sanders’s bill received no co-sponsors. Garret’s bill already has bi-partisan support with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Rep. Scott W. Taylor (R-Virginia), and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado) already co-signing.
“This step allows states to determine appropriate medicinal use and allows for industrial hemp growth, something that will provide a major economic boost to agricultural development in Southside Virginia,” Garrett said.
Some advocates were encouraged by Garrett’s bill. “While most of our federal gains to date have been through amendments attached to much broader spending bills, I’m hopeful that with the growing number of states changing their laws these stand-alone bills [like Garrett’s] will get enough traction to at least finally start getting hearings,” Tom Angel of Marijuana Majority said, according to the Washington Post.
Garrett may have been motivated by Sessions’s comments at his Senate confirmation hearing.
“In recent weeks, the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to crack down on federal marijuana crimes,” Garrett’s office said in a press release. “During his confirmation, then-Senator Sessions pointed out that if legislators did not like this approach, they should change the laws accordingly.”