Sen. Cory Gardner tries to attach marijuana measure to criminal justice bill

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, made a move Monday toward changing federal marijuana law, including letting banks accept money from legal businesses.

The Yuma Republican introduced an amendment to the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform bill that’s expected to pass the Senate this week with bipartisan support.

Gardner’s amendment would amend the Controlled Substances Act to exempt people growing, selling and buying marijuana from federal prosecution in states where it’s legal. However, the amendment wouldn’t change marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug, meaning it would remain illegal in states that haven’t legalized it for medical or recreational use. The amendment would also let federally insured banks accept money from marijuana businesses.

“While we are debating criminal justice reform, we need to address the threat of prosecution by the federal government for people in Colorado that are operating legal businesses under state law,” Gardner said in a statement. “Recent polls show around 65 percent of the country support legalization and 93 percent support medical marijuana. The people are speaking. The states are leading. It’s time for Congress to act to protect states’ rights.”

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