Senator Cramer Co-Sponsors Legislation With Senator Warren to Let States Set Their Own Marijuana Policy


TOM STROMME/Tribune Senator-elect Kevin Cramer speaks at a post-election press conference on Wednesday morning in Bismarck. Cramer answered questions on a wide range of topics but stated he would be back in Washington next week to work on finalizing a farm bill among other items in his last days as North Dakota's lone congressman.

“I’m such a prude, if I could I’d role it back so we couldn’t have booze,” Senator Kevin Cramer once told me during an interview.

He was responding to a question about legalizing marijuana, expressing a personal that North Dakota shouldn’t legalize marijuana, but he also said he supported states making their own choices when it comes to marijuana specifically. “Philosophically I don’t have a problem with states making that determination,” he said in the same interview.

Today Senator Cramer announced that he’s an original co-sponsor of the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act which, per a press release from Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office, would “ensure that each State has the right to determine for itself the best approach to marijuana within its borders.”

Most states in America have legalized marijuana, to one degree or another, but this has all been in the shadow of on-going federal prohibition. This has made state-level marijuana policy confusing. For instance, businesses looking to enter what their state government considers to be lawful marijuana trade must still be fearful of action from federal law enforcement. Also things like banking and insurance can be difficult to access, given that those businesses are not keen on drawing the ire of the feds.

So it’s high time the federal government recognized reality, which is that there’s little appetite in the American public for marijuana prohibition. It’s time to let the states take the lead on this issue.

It’s a bit of a through-the-looking-glass moment to see someone like Elizabeth Warren take a state on the 10th amendment. I remember, back during the Obama years, when tea party activists would talk about the importance of the 10th amendment they were called “tenthers” and secessionists.

Now people like Warren are aligned on 10th amendment legislation with people like Cramer and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

It’s a good thing, and I hope this new found respect for the 10th amendment might bleed over into other policy areas. There are a lot of policy areas the federal government should be leaving to the states.

Meanwhile, marijuana activists in North Dakota tell me they are gearing up for another run at legalizing recreational marijuana. They’re announcing the beginnings of that campaign this week.

The text of the bill is below. You can read a summary of the legislation here.

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