This week, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announced she is working with a bi-partisan group of senators on legislation to give states more control over their marijuana laws, in a direct rebuke to Attorney General Sessions January 4 rescission of the Cole Memorandum. While there are similar efforts in the House (including the increasingly popular McClintock-Polis Amendment), Warren’s bi-partisan legislation would be leading the way for U.S. senators who support states’ rights and protecting the states’ Constitutional ability to serve as laboratories of democracy.
Senator Warren’s leadership should be applauded by Republicans who, having repeatedly argued in favor of states’ rights on a number of issues, included a states’ rights plank in their 2016 platform. Indeed, with 61% of Americans in favor of full cannabis legalization and 29 states (plus D.C.) having legalized cannabis for medicinal and/or adult use, a significant number of Republican senators should be able to find the political courage to join Senator Warren. But don't go counting too many hatchlings on the Republican side of the aisle just yet. Senator Warren hasn't even announced the identity of the Republican colleague(s) with whom she's working, though it's probably a safe bet Senator Gardner from Colorado is included, along with potentially Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. We’ll just have to see which brave Republican senators come forward to honor not just their own words regarding states’ rights but also their commitment to representing the will of their constituents.