A vote for Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other Democrats in the upper chamber is basically a vote to decriminalize marijuana on a federal level, it’s just a matter of getting Senate
Leader Mitch McConnell out of the way.
That’s message Warren sent to stoners during a recent sit-down with Rolling Stone, when she touted legislation called the STATES Act that she co-sponsored with Colorado Republican Sen. Cory Gardner to shift control over marijuana laws to individual states, rather than the federal government.
Warren said senators from several states that have approved medical or recreational use gathered earlier this year after the justice department rescinded the Obama-era Cole Memorandum, which directed federal prosecutors to defer to states when it comes to marijuana. Warren partnered with Gardner to craft the STATES Act and basically codify the approach in federal law, but she contends it will take a change of leadership in the Senate to make it a reality.
“I feel confident that if the Democrats recapture the Senate we’ll get a vote on this, and the vote will carry,” she said. “I think we’ve got the votes for this.”
Warren said President Trump has signaled support for the bill, but McConnell is dead set against it, despite growing bi-partisan support. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senator from New York who would presumably control the Senate should his party take control, is totally on board, Warren said.
“So the way over that hurdle is to get enough Republicans to push Mitch McConnell. And we’ve been brining 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,” she told Rolling Stone. “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.”
Warren admitted, however, that she hasn’t actually spoken with Schumer about her bill, she’s just assuming he’ll go along.
“So Chuck has supported this,” she said. “I have to say I don’t think we’ve specifically (asked him). But Chuck has supported this.”
Warren said she’s a big advocate of marijuana, and supports federal legalization through New Jersey U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, because “I care about people in my home state who are at risk for getting arrested by (U.S. Attorney General) Jeff Sessions for either buying marijuana or running a marijuana business.
“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 …,” she said.
Warren told the Rolling Stone she’s never smoke marijuana and declined a reporter’s invitation to partake at his D.C. home, but she said he has heard first-hand accounts from military veterans who‘ve said it’s a big help with PTSD, and they’re frustrated the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t recognize its potential.
“ … (A) man who came to see me a couple of years ago. He was a veteran. He had served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. And he talked about how terrible his PTSD was when he got home and how the Veterans Administration had loaded him up on tons of drugs. He said he had reached a state where he could not be left in charge of his own children because he was so drugged up and struggling so hard. A friend of his suggested he smoke marijuana, and he said over time it both brought down his anxiety levels and helped him — one at a time — get rid of the drugs he was taking. And he said now he smokes a little every day, and he’s able to hold down a job. He’s able to be part of his family and part of his community. And he came to see me to tell me that story,” Warren told Rolling Stone.
“I understand that one story is not the same as hearing from everyone around the country, but it was a powerful story about how a bad law touched someone directly. He couldn’t get what was the best help for him — marijuana — because federal law made it illegal. And he was here to advocate to me about the VA. He wanted the VA to be able to prescribe marijuana because it had been so enormously helpful to him that he spent his own money to come down to Washington to talk to his senator, to ask his senator to advocate for widespread use of marijuana in the VA system. And it was just a very powerful story about how bad laws affect real people.”