Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warren on Their Marijuana Bill Team-Up

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren looks on as Colorado Senator Cory Gardner talks this morning about the just-introduced Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act.
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren looks on as Colorado Senator Cory Gardner talks this morning about the just-introduced Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act. Facebook
At a press conference that concluded moments ago, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and Colorado Senator Cory Gardner — a political odd couple if ever there was one — explained why they've teamed up to introduce a marijuana-related bill called the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act.

According to Gardner's office, the measure is intended "to ensure that each state has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders. The bill also extends these protections to Washington, D.C, U.S. territories, and federally recognized tribes, and contains common-sense guardrails to ensure that states, territories and tribes regulating marijuana do so safely."

The event was streamed live this morning on Warren's Facebook page, and she kicked things off by calling Gardner, who's as politically conservative as she is deeply liberal, "a great partner in this fight" to fix a "broken and outmoded set of laws" at the federal level regarding marijuana.

According to Warren, "The laws on the books make it harder for veterans to get treatment for chronic pain. They keep children with chronic diseases in agony and they make life miserable for individuals struggling with terminal diseases."

She added, "The science is clear: Medical marijuana treatments are effective. There is absolutely no reason patients should be prevented from seeking scientifically approved care, but right now, that is the reality for millions of people across the country. These archaic laws don't just hurt individual people. They also hurt businesses that are in the marijuana business from getting access to banking services. That forces a multi-million-dollar industry to operate all in cash. That's bad for business and bad for safety."

That's not to mention what Warren referred to as the "widespread discrimination these policies foster across our communities...that have devastated communities of color."

As for Gardner, he took different angles on the issue and even referenced President Donald Trump, as you'll see in the following video of the press conference.

Gardner noted that his collaboration with Warren "has been a great partnership from the very beginning" prior to lauding "a number of our colleagues coming together to find a solution on what is a very significant state-federal conflict."

Next, he opined that "our founders intended the states to be laboratories of democracy. Many states right now find themselves deep in the heart of that laboratory. As the president said in a conversation with me, 'We can't go backwards. We can only go forward.' The ketchup's not going back in the bottle, as the old saying goes."

At that point, Gardner made an admission: "I opposed the legalization of marijuana when Colorado chose to do this several years back. But if the election were held today, I believe Colorado voters would vote by an even greater margin to move forward with legalization." Moreover, he continued, "We have a number of states now that have this conflict, and it simply needs to be addressed."

By his calculation, "There are several things we need to achieve. Number one, this is a chance for us to express that federalism works — to take an idea that states have led with and find a solution that allows them to continue to lead. Number two, this is public hypocrisy. The City of Denver, the State of Colorado can collect taxes, Massachusetts businesses can collect taxes, they can take it to the bank. But if you're in the [marijuana] business, if you work for the business, you can't get a bank loan or set up a bank account because of the concern over the conflict of the state and federal law. We need to fix this public hypocrisy. The third thing: This is a public-safety issue. Billions of dollars in cash are floating around Colorado and other states that have a legalized industry, and they can't bank it. They are forced to figure out how, where and what to do with hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars in cash."

Bottom line, Gardner thinks "it's time that we take this industry out of the shadows, bring these dollars out of the shadows and make sure we hold these people accountable for an industry that states are moving forward with regardless of the pace of business in Washington, D.C."

Click to read the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act and a STATES Act fact sheet.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts