In 2012, voters in Washington state passed Initiative 502, which legalized the sale, consumption and taxation of marijuana products. Including Washington, 23 states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of marijuana, and in 2016, several more states are expected to consider marijuana legalization ballot initiatives.
Yet, marijuana possession or use for any purpose is still prohibited under the federal Controlled Substances Act, leaving participants in all of the state markets — including cancer patients — at risk of arrest by federal authorities.
This murky legal environment restricts states from being able to regulate as effectively as possible because they are hamstrung by federal preemption problems. The federal government should provide states already effectively regulating marijuana the certainty that their citizens will not face federal prosecution.
That’s why I introduced the State Marijuana And Regulatory Tolerance (SMART) Enforcement Act. It would protect medical patients, recreational users and businesses owners in states that have legalized marijuana from being prosecuted now or retroactively in the future. My bill builds on the current U.S. Department of Justice guidance for marijuana enforcement and recognizes the shared role states have traditionally played in policing marijuana offenses.