tv U.S. Senate Re-air Sen. Gardner R-CO on Marijuana Commerce Amendment to... CSPAN December 19, 2018 9:13am-9:24am EST
criminal justice reform package 87-12. the bill now heads to the u.s. house. the senate returns this morning at 10 eastern to vote to advance the nomination for the president's pick to head the national counterterrorism center. next, a look at some of the debate in the senate on that criminal justice reform bill beginning with the moment yesterday when colorado senator cory gardner attempted to add an amendment to the bill on marijuana commerce. . >> thank you, mr. president. i ask unanimous consent to set aside the pending amendment and call up amendment 4123. >> is there objection? >> i reserving the right to object. >> i'd like to explain my registering my right to make a point before i object. this amendment is inconsistent with current federal law and would allow states the right to break existing law. if there is an attempt to
legalize across the country, we should have that debate and let the congress decide to issue instead of creating a back door to legalization. furthermore, the amendment would allow financial institutions to bank marijuana distributors. this is inappropriate to consider in the context of a criminal justice reform bill. criminal justice is not a vehicle through which we create reform for banks to create more business. so the senator from colorado is very much an advocate for the people in his state. i understand that. i respect his position. he works hard on this and he may be ahead of the time when there will be a real debate on this and maybe there will be at that point an opportunity to consider his approach as something lesser than the
legalization of marijuana generally. so because of those reasons, i will object to what the senator from colorado's trying to accomplish. >> the objection is heard. >> mr. president. >> gentleman from colorado. >> i thank the senator from iowa, senator grassley. the senate is going to take up a bill he's worked hard to see drew through to this day. the criminal justice package. it shows american people that bipartisan remains alive in the u.s. senate. leaders on both sides of the aisle, as well as the white house should be commended for their admirable persistence and cooperation on this legislation. i believe the package's goals are noble. it's right to help those who have paid their debt to re-enter society with the best possible chance to be productive contributors, it's right to make sure that sentences are fair and appropriately tailored to the
defendant and it's right to calibrate the way we treat those in custody based on the risk that they pose to society, but being from colorado it's hard to think about federal criminal justice reform without thinking of the biggest problem the federal criminal law creates for colorado. the refusal to respect the will of coloradans when it comes to their decision on marijuana. that's exactly what i'm trying to do is to create a debate so that we can address the conflict between state and federal law. everyday coloradans of good faith follow colorado law to a t, yet, they're still criminals in the eyes of the federal government. cancer patients using medical marijuana to control their pain, and veterans who are using marijuana to alleviate post traumatic stress, they suffer because they served their country. federal law says they are criminals, even though they are perfectly legal within their right under state law. that attempt we're making today
is to fix the inconsistency between federal and state law, to begin the debate because the people don't think that they're criminals when they follow the law in colorado. so we should change federal law. this disconnect doesn't just affect the patrons or growers and retailers for that matter. it makes criminals of those outside of the industry. and as we were talking about criminal sensing reform, we should be thinking about a plumber, electricians, bankers, landlords, real estate service providers, employment and advertising agencies, hr services and the everyday businesses that interact with the marijuana industry like they do any other part of our economy are affected by federal law, too. that's because when they take money from a federal law business, federal law considers them money lawnundererlaunderer that means the mother who moved
to colorado to treat their child who has epileptics, severe epilepsy, with the oils that we work on marijuana, reduces the seizures from a thousand to month to a few, six, seven, eight or a dozen a month, are illegal under the eyes of the federal government. putting them at risk for criminal liability and civil asset forfeiture. it forces the market into the pseudo shadows where business is in hard to track cash. 1.5 billion in cash, inviting dangerous robberies, hindering law enforcement that legal sales rather than illicit cartels. this is an effort to bring that $1.5 billion in colorado alone out of those shadows.
it also means that researchers can't test marijuana for medical efficacy to help better understand impairments because the researchers fear the loss of federal funding. all of this flies in the face of what the colorado people have chosen to do for themselves. indeed it flies in the face of the 33 states that legalized some for the of marijuana including ten that regulate adult use. and just this year, oklahoma, missouri, utah, have passed laws establishing medical marijuana programs and michigan and vermont have passed lawsuits permitting regulated adult use. and wisconsin voters in 16 counties overwhelmingly passed advisory refer da supporting legalization. here is the chart. look at this chart. green on this chart represents the states that have legalized some form of marijuana, whether it's recreational, whether it's medical, whether it's cbd's, some kind of hemp product, cannabis.
look at the green on this map. over 95% of the population in this country live in a state that has made legalization happen. in some way, shape or form. almost every state. let's go to the list of the states. almost every state. here are the states allowing some form of marijuana. alabama, alaska, arizona, arkansas, california, colorado, connecticut, delaware, florida. it goes on and on. it's easier to say the three states that have not allowed it, idaho, nebraska and south dakota. the only three states that have not. recent polling from quinnipiac shows more than 60% of the american people support legalized marijuana and 93% support medical marijuana. 93% support medical marijuana. the american people have made up their minds, this is happening. let's be clear, this isn't just happening in blue states like california or massachusetts, or purple states like colorado.
it's happening in bold, deep red states like utah, oklahoma, and west virginia. and it's happening in swing states like florida, ohio, pennsylvania, michigan and missouri. the bedrock principle of our government expressed in the declaration of independence, as the government loses respect for the people, people loz lose respect for the law. congress must respond. the act is a simple, straightford plan. within certain basic federal guardrails, conduct in compliance with state marijuana law will not violate the controlled substances act. this legislation is the embodiment of federalism our founders envisioned, it allows each state to move, if at all, to move at their own pace.
it lets states like colorado be the model of democracy that people expect, but most importantly, it lets colorado be colorado. south carolina be south carolina and florida be florida and they all will have federal prosecutors backing up whatever decision they make with respect to this decision. the people of colorado have made their decision already. i did not vote for legalization in 2012. i did not support legalization, but i respect my state's decision, it's people know what it right for colorado-- people know what is right for the state of could -- colorado. that might not be right for florida or south carolina. and respect the decisions just like any other state. i'm all for helping those who paid their debt to society, but there are many for whom there should be no debt. that's why the states act should be included in federal criminal justice reform.
let's close with this map. i can see it one more time. over 95% of the population of the united states lives in a state where they have legalized some form of marijuana. every state in green is a state that has legalized some form of marijuana. by the year 2022, this industry will be over $20 billion. all of which can't be in the banking system because it's against federal law. and what happens when you force a $20 billion all cash economy? i guess that's what we ought to be dealing with here today. this isn't just about banking. that's a side effect of the state's act. the state's act recognizes that federalist principle, that a state can decide this issue for itself. this bill, this amendment at this time recognizes that you shouldn't go to federal prison
for following state law. that in its essence is sentencing reform. if we had a chance to vote on this amendment today, the amendment would be germane. it would be a 50-vote threshold. simple majority. up or down, and i know that this bill, this amendment has the support from this body on both sides of the aisle to fix this conflict and allow the states to make their own decisions without the heavy hand of washington telling them what to do. mr. president, i yield my time and will not give up this fight. >> thank you, mr. president. i want to spend a few minutes, mr. president, talking about the so-called criminal justice bill that we will soon be voting on in the united states senate and i want to make it very clear that i don't believe there's a single solitary member of this body that would do