President Donald Trump told reporters last week that he would probably support a measure to end a federal ban on marijuana. Colorado, Massachusetts, and seven other states, as well as Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational use of the drug for adults, and another 20 states allow it for medical purposes. (Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images)
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President Donald Trump indicated he would be willing to support a bill that would end a federal ban on marijuana.
Sens. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday released a bipartisan proposal to amend the Controlled Substances Act.
“I support Sen. Gardner,” Trump told reporters Friday morning when asked about the bill before he boarded a helicopter for the G-7 summit in Canada. “I know exactly what he’s doing. We’re looking at it. But I probably will end up supporting that, yes.”
What's the story?
The bill would prioritize states' rights and remove the threat of federal law enforcement seizures that makes it difficult for marijuana businesses to garner funding. Also, industrial hemp would also be removed from the list of banned substances.
Colorado, Massachusetts, and seven other states, as well as Washington, D.C., have legalized recreational use of the drug for adults, and another 20 states allow it for medical purposes.
Removing the federal ban would allow individual states the right to determine whether to allow or disallow pot use within their borders.
"The federal government is closing its eyes and plugging its ears while 46 states have acted," Gardner said in a statement, according to CNBC. "The bipartisan, commonsense bill ensures the federal government will respect the will of the voters — whether that is legalization or prohibition — and not interfere in any states' legal marijuana industry."
Gardner and Warren said the bill wouldn't force legalization on any state that doesn't want to make it legal, but it would make it easier for marijuana businesses to work with lenders.
“If you are in the marijuana business … you can’t get a bank loan or set up a bank account because of concern over the conflict between state and federal law,” Gardner said Thursday during a news conference. “We need to fix this. It is time we take this industry out of the shadows, bring these dollars out of the shadows.”
"We are trying to take care of business in Massachusetts, in Colorado," Warren said during the news conference. "We are trying to respect the voters of our states that said this is how we want to do business around marijuana ... and we just want the federal government to get out of the way and let them do it."
The proposed bill is significantly at odds with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has warned pot businesses they could face prosecution.
Is the bill expected to make it through Congress?
While many states have approved some form of use of marijuana, congressional leaders haven't shown much interest in making changes to the federal law that prohibits the drug.
“It faces tremendous headwinds,” John Hudak, a marijuana policy expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington, told the Los Angeles Times.