Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) on Tuesday blocked lawmakers from considering an amendment on the floor of the US Senate that sought to permanently remove the threat of federal intervention in states that regulate marijuana sales.
The amendment, offered by Colorado Republican Cory Gardner, was largely identical to Senate Bill 3032: The STATES Act, which creates an exemption under federal law for those jurisdictions that legally regulate marijuana production and retail sales. Senator Gardner has stated that he has the votes to pass the measure on the floor, and that the President would sign the bill into law. To date, however, the measure has yet to receive either a debate or a vote by members of the Senate.
Senator Grassley, who has previously bottled S. 3032 in committee, quashed Sen. Gardner’s effort to attach the language to broader sentencing reform bill, The First Step Act. Senator Grassley called the amendment a “backdoor to legalization,” and said that its intent was “inappropriate to consider in the context of a criminal justice reform bill.”
Senate members eventually passed The First Step Act. House members followed suit on Thursday. The measure now awaits action from the President.
As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Grassley has refused to permit votes on any Senate bills pertaining to marijuana law reform. However, in November, he announced that he would be stepping down as Committee Chair.