After leaving the Republican Party in protest over the GOP's refusal to impeach President Donald Trump, Congressman Justin Amash (I-MI) is trying to shake up the status quo again by filing a bill that would end federal cannabis prohibition in America.
Amash's new bill bears a striking resemblance to the STATES Act, which was introduced to Congress last year by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). However, there is at least one key difference between the two bills. While both would effectively prevent the federal government from interfering in state-level marijuana legalization, Amash's bill does not include the research stipulations that the STATES Act has.
The STATES Act would task the Government Accountability Office (GAO) with studying the impact that cannabis legalization has on road safety in order to eliminate the risks caused by high drivers. Amash's bill would not require the US government to study this or any other topic.
That difference makes Amash's bill cheaper to implement as the feds wouldn't have to find money for the GAO to pursue road research. However, that difference will also draw criticism from advocates who think lawmakers need to take roads as well as social justice more seriously.
One of the biggest criticisms of the STATES Act is that it does not contain any social justice initiatives. The War on Drugs has done disproportionate damage to poor communities and people of color, so many advocates want legalization bills to offer restitution to people who have been unduly impacted by the drug war. States like Illinois have responded to that call by adding social justice initiatives to their legalization bills.
Only time will tell if Congressman Amash's legislation will succeeds where so many others have failed, but we do know it's already lost the support of diehard advocates who don't want to settle for a bill that ignores the pain and destruction caused by the drug war.
h/t Marijuana Moment