Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was anticipated to be an original cosponsor of newly filed bipartisan legislation to shield legal marijuana states from federal intervention. But when it was unveiled on Thursday, the senator’s name was nowhere to be found—even although she signed on to a almost identical bill final year.
Two lobbyists who operate on cannabis concerns on Capitol Hill told Marijuana Moment that Feinstein’s employees added her name to the bill, but that in the days top up to its introduction the senator removed herself at the final minute—for motives that are not totally clear.
The lobbyists did not want to be named in this story so that they could speak freely about the improvement, and Feinstein’s workplace did not respond to various requests for comment on the reasoning behind her selection or irrespective of whether the senator plans to cosponsor the legislation at a later date.
When Feinstein was announced as a cosponsor of a preceding version of the legislation final year, it was a major deal. She has a track record of opposing drug policy reform—including California’s 2016 cannabis legalization measure as effectively as congressional measures to shield state cannabis laws from federal interference—but she’d abruptly reversed that position. And as the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, her newfound help could have been essential in advancing the legislation.
Advocates are each disappointed and suspicious, questioning irrespective of whether politics, rather than an earnest conviction about the require to transform the country’s drug laws, motivated her previous cosponsorship of the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment By means of Entrusting States (STATES) Act.
At the time that her cosponsorship of the earlier bill was announced, the senator was facing a reelection challenge from a progressive contender, California State Sen. Kevin de Leon (D).
“By refusing to get on this year’s version of the STATES Act, it shows how clear Senator Feinstein’s flirtation with placing an finish to federal marijuana was just an work guard her seat,” Michael Liszewski, principal of The Enact Group, a lobbying and consulting firm that focuses on cannabis concerns, argued. “It’s outstanding that Feinstein will back marijuana reform to save her job but then refuse to do when it comes to safeguarding her constituents from federal prosecution.”
Justin Strekal, political director of NORML, place it this way: “It’s outstanding when you count on nothing at all and are nevertheless disappointed.”
Feinstein’s reversal on the STATES Act stands in contrast to that of Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), who sent a letter to the chair of the Property Judiciary Committee endorsing the legislation this week. Collins has also opposed different marijuana reform measures throughout his tenure in Congress but is now calling on the Property Democratic majority to advance the new cannabis bill.
Aside from Feinstein, all of the other cosponsors of the final version of the STATES Act who are nevertheless in the Senate remained on board for the new version—with the exception of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), who is sponsoring separate, a lot more far-reaching legislation known as the Marijuana Justice Act, which includes provisions addressing the harms of previous cannabis enforcement. (Feinstein has not signed onto Booker’s bill or any other cannabis legislation filed in the 116th Congress.)
Two more senators—Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND)—joined as new original cosponsors of this year’s STATES Act.
“It’s disappointing to see Senator Feinstein flip flop on this situation,” Michael Collins, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, told Marijuana Moment. “We believed she had turned the corner, but it seems not to be the case.”
Marijuana Moment reached out to the offices of Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), chief sponsors of the Senate’s STATES Act, for information about Feinstein declining to be a cosponsor this time about. Representatives had been not quickly offered to comment.
Though the senator hasn’t stated she opposes the STATES Act and could nevertheless add her name to the list of cosponsors at a later time, getting an original cosponsor would have signaled that Feinstein was producing cannabis reform a priority for the 116th Congress. And her position as the ranking member on a committee that will play a central function in the legislation’s fate would have produced that all the a lot more vital.
“While it is disappointing that Sen. Feinstein is not an original cosponsor of the STATES Act in the 116th Congress, it is our understanding that is not a signal that she opposes the legislation. Just that it is not a priority,” Neal Levine, CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation, stated. “We are excited about the additions of Sen. Wyden and Sen. Cramer, and count on Sen. Feinstein to eventually guard the burgeoning legal cannabis sector in California by voting in favor of the STATES Act.”
Even if Feinstein does eventually lend her help, acquiring the bill passed in the Senate will be a challenge. The chair of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said this week that he’s “not incredibly excited about” about the legislation.
“It’s time Senator Feinstein accepts the inevitability of cannabis legalization and cosponsors the STATES Act,” Michael Correa, director of government relations for the National Cannabis Market Association, told Marijuana Moment. “This balanced strategy and prevalent sense option aids address the federal/state conflict on cannabis laws, even though giving protection for a multi-billion dollar sector.”
“She was elected to defend her state,” Correa stated. “This bill does that.”
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Photo courtesy of Neon Tommy.