Op-Ed - Leave it to the STATES - South Dade News Leader: Opinion

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Op-Ed - Leave it to the STATES

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Posted: Friday, August 24, 2018 2:00 am | Updated: 10:33 am, Sun Aug 26, 2018.

For decades, the United States has debated cannabis. Whether it’s the medical benefits of the plant, the economic benefits it could have for legal, state-regulated small businesses, or the role legalization could have in product safety and combatting drug trafficking, this hot-button issue has attracted a great deal of discussion among the American people and their representatives at all levels of government.

The issue is often described as a generational one, with younger Americans overwhelmingly showing their support for limiting federal overreach. However that perception is misleading, as nearly 75 percent of Americans support allowing states to set their own cannabis policy. At the state level, and increasingly as a nation, we are making substantial progress toward understanding what benefits cannabis reform can have in our society in the spheres of healthcare, the economy and small business, and criminal justice.

In the 2016 elections, Florida voters overwhelming supported the legal use of medical marijuana with 71.3% of Florida voters voting in favor. The two counties I represent, Monroe and Miami-Dade, voted in favor of the measure 80.3% and 68.3%, respectively. And Florida is not alone. Nine states have legalized the drug for recreational purposes and 46 states have adopted laws

permitting or decriminalizing marijuana or marijuana-based products.

This has paved the way for extensive bipartisan debate in Washington about whether the federal government should persist in its attempts to supersede the will of these states or if federal marijuana policy needs to be modernized to allow these states to exercise the will of their voters.

I firmly believe the federal government must get out of the way and allow state regulation of marijuana, which is why I worked with my colleagues in the Senate and the House to introduce the bipartisan Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.

The STATES Act takes significant strides to ease federal reign over cannabis by allowing states to legalize and regulate cannabis – or keep it illegal, if they choose – while exempting state-legalized marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. This bill would allow states like Florida the legal authority to dictate their own cannabis policy, while staying in the bounds of federal

regulations.

The STATES Act would also guarantee that compliant transactions would not be considered trafficking, thereby allowing small business owners working with cannabis to operate fully within federal law.

Contrary to popular belief, these actions would not make cannabis more readily accessible. Instead, this bill would encourage state-regulation, thus eliminating the role of drug traffickers in the marijuana industry. Furthermore, the STATES Act would help keep marijuana products out of that hands of minors by requiring purchases by those only over the age of 21, unless they have a specific medical issue that falls within state regulations. This bill is an opportunity for us to leave the regulation of this substance to the states, just as the Tenth Amendment of our Constitution outlines.

The STATES Act is a positive step toward reversing some of the rhetoric that comes with debating cannabis policy and also gives opportunities for small business to continue to grow. The federal government for years has ignored or impeded states’ rights when it comes to this issue, and the current administration has only worsened that tension with the Attorney General’s witch hunt against legal, state-regulated businesses and consumers.

While we still have work to do in terms of creating a more comprehensive and modernized federal cannabis policy, many of us in Washington are working in a bipartisan way to ensure the will of voters in states like Florida are respected. The STATES Act is just one example of how we accomplish this goal.

Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R) represents FL-26 district

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1 comment:

  • August Sitton posted at 3:54 am on Wed, Sep 5, 2018.

    August Sitton Posts: 1

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