Canadian Senate votes in favour of bill to legalize cannabis

Senators announce bill to protect states' ability to make marijuana laws

Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) held a press conference today (June 7) to announce the introduction of a bill which would allow states the right to choose whether to legalize marijuana without interference from the federal government.

MA U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren joined a Colorado Republican on Thursday to roll out federal legislation that would resolve much of the tension between the federal prohibition on marijuana and the growing pot industries in states that have voted to legalize marijuana.

Their legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Act to make it inapplicable in those states, federal territories, and tribal lands that have passed some form of marijuana legalization.

He said in a statement released Thursday that the federal government "is closing its eyes and plugging its ears" to spreading legalization, but Washington should not interfere with any state's legal marijuana market.

The senators say they have bipartisan support in the Senate and the House of Representatives for the bill.

Warren quipped they were "lining them up like Noah's Ark" - one Democrat for each Republican.

Don Murphy, the conservative outreach director of the Marijuana Policy Project, lauded the bill, calling it the "most significant piece of marijuana-related legislation ever introduced in Congress".

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In January, Sessions rescinded Obama-era guidance that urged federal prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations. Gardner to sponsor a new legislation called The Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act. This legislation, as Rolling Stone reports, would give states the right to decide their own marijuana policies. Under federal law, marijuana is equated with heroin and LSD.

Warren noted that Sessions' position on marijuana had actually spurred lawmakers to act to protect their states' discretion on the issue.

California and eight other states, as well as Washington, D.C., have legalized all adult use of marijuana. "We're looking at it, but I probably will end up supporting that, yes".

A further 20 states permit use of weed for medicinal use.

In Ohio, medical marijuana is legal (although the program is not up and running yet), and there's an effort afoot to also legalize recreational marijuana.

Warren said current federal prohibition on marijuana impedes effective marijuana treatments for medical patients and unjustly targets minority communities.

Because of that, marijuana companies have several financial obstacles, including the inability to use banks. The amendments proposed by the Senate involve stricter advertising restrictions and giving provinces control over whether or not Canadians can grow marijuana in their homes.