As a Nevada citizen, a marijuana special use attorney, and advocate for veterans, I write today to discuss important issues related to states’ rights, federalism, and cannabis regulation.
The Constitution of the United States codifies federalism, protecting the power of the states to speak, act and legislate in a constitutionally guaranteed and sovereign manner. As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.” I agree!
Currently, 29 states have legalized some form of cannabis. Individual states must be allowed to determine their own policies for the regulation of their legal, state-based cannabis industries.
The concept of federalism cannot and should not be selectively applied by D.C. policymakers. It is politically and philosophically lazy to be a selective federalist. The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
The people of Nevada have spoken. We favor legalized, regulated, adult use cannabis. Constitutionally speaking, the Federal government must respect our duly enacted laws and regulatory regime for cannabis. Federal intrusion into states that have medical or adult use cannabis is an assault on our constitutional system.
So the question is – what can be done? I urge Congress to adopt the McClintock-Polis amendment preventing the Department of Justice from spending funds to interfere with state cannabis laws. Authorization of this amendment will remove uncertainty and ambiguity from our state-based, state-legal, and state-regulated cannabis industry.
I also support H.R. 1810, authored by Representative Carlos Curbelo, reforming IRS Section 280(e), allowing for cannabis businesses to be treated like any other legal, state-based business. Congress must also reform federal banking laws so that legal cannabis operations have access to traditional banking services.
Since cannabis is still illegal under federal law, any profit by companies in the marijuana sector is considered illegal. Banks who accept accounts from cannabis businesses become open to government seizure and criminal prosecution. This banking reform is currently part of the CARERS Act of 2017.
These policies, if enacted, will allow our state to prioritize limited law enforcement assets and curtail the cash and cartel-based operations of the marijuana black market.
If you believe in Federalism, the Tenth Amendment, and the power of the states to regulate and grow their own economies, within their own borders, let your federal officials know that state-legal, state-based cannabis laws should fall under state jurisdiction. Also, let them know that you support commonsense reform of federal laws in order to provide for state-first regulation of these burgeoning cannabis industries.