June 06, 2019

Governors Baker and Newsom Lead Bipartisan Group of Governors Calling on Congress to Pass the STATES Act

Text of the letter (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Gardner (D-Colo.) today applauded Governors Charlie Baker (R-Mass.) and Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) for leading a bipartisan group of twelve governors, including Kate Brown (D-Ore.), Gary Herbert (R-Utah), Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), Phil Scott (R-Vt.), Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.), Doug Burgum (R-N.D.), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Steve Sisolak (D-Nev.), Tom Wolf (D-Pa.), and Larry Hogan (R-Md.), in a letter of support for the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act.

Senators Warren and Gardner first introduced this bipartisan, bicameral bill in 2018 to put the power to regulate marijuana in the hands of state governments. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and David Joyce (R-Ohio) introduced an identical version in the House. The lawmakers reintroduced their bill in the House and Senate in April 2019.

Each of the twelve governors who signed the letter represents a state with laws permitting or decriminalizing marijuana for adult use or medical purposes. They called on Congress to honor state cannabis laws and take action to protect businesses and consumers operating in accordance with state law.

"The STATES Act is...about respecting the authority of states to act, lead and respond to the evolving needs and attitudes of their citizens," wrote the governors. "We ask that Congress recognize and respect our states' efforts by supporting and passing the STATES Act."

"I'm glad Governors Baker and Newsom are leading their colleagues from across the country in support of the STATES Act," said Senator Warren. "It's long past time to pass this bipartisan bill to protect our states, territories, and tribal nations as they implement their own marijuana laws without federal interference while we pursue broader policy reforms."

"The endorsement of these twelve governors sends a clear message to Congress about the widespread, bipartisan support for the STATES Act. Ninety-seven percent of Americans live in a state with some form of legalized cannabis," said Senator Gardner. "That explains why governors from states as different as Massachusetts, North Dakota, and Utah signed this letter. The STATES Act is a commonsense bill that ensures the federal government will respect the will of the voters -- whether that is legalization or prohibition -- and not interfere in any state's legal cannabis industry. I'm grateful for the leadership of Governors Baker and Newsom, along with the support from Governor Polis for the STATES Act, and I will continue working with my colleagues to pass this critical legislation to respect the will of the people."


  • Amends the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. § 801) (CSA) so that -- as long as states and tribal nations comply with a few basic protections -- its provisions no longer apply to any person acting in compliance with State or tribal laws relating to the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration, or delivery of marijuana.
  • Continues to apply the following federal criminal provisions under the CSAby prohibiting:
    • Endangerment of human life while manufacturing a controlled substance; and
    • Employment of persons under age 18 in marijuana operations.
  • Prohibits the distribution of marijuana at transportation safety facilitiessuch as rest areas and truck stops.
  • Bars the distribution or sale of marijuana to persons under the age of 21other than for medical purposes.
  • Instructs the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study on the effects of marijuana legalizationon traffic safety, including whether states are able to accurately evaluate marijuana impairment, testing standards used by these states, and a detailed assessment of traffic incidents.
  • Addresses financial issues caused by federal prohibitionby clearly stating that compliant transactions are not trafficking and do not result in proceeds of an unlawful transaction.

The twelve governors join a growing chorus of business leaders, consumers, policymakers, and advocates calling on Congress to pass the STATES Act. Warren and Gardner's legislation is cosponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators in the Senate and House, and is supported by over fifty organizations and tribal nations.